3D Printed EyesIf Italian researchers at research studio MHOX are correct, by the year 2027 you’ll be able to say goodbye to your contact lenses, eyeglasses, glaucoma, cataracts, and any other eye/vision condition. How? By replacing your natural eyes with a pair of completely artificially constructed, 3D printed eyeballs.

While you may scoff — your home printer often seems incapable of printing a single photo with any semblance of quality — 3D printers have already created prosthetics and bone replacements that are more customizable and affordable. Creating organic, functional body parts doesn’t seem that far fetched.

MHOX partner and lead designer Filippo Nassetti explains the logic, “Latest developments in bioprinting and biohacking let us imagine that in the near future it would be possible to easily print organic, functional body parts, allowing the human to replace defective districts or enhance standard performance.”

The MHOX concept is named EYE (Enhance Your Eye). The goal is to reverse blindness and give better vision to those who struggle with various eye conditions. Once an original pair of eyes is surgically removed the 3D printed eyes would be inserted and connected to a “deck” inside the head. The deck would need to be installed surgically, but once in place, users could interchange 3D printed eyes on their own.

To 3D print an eye bio-ink would be required. It would encompass the various cells found in natural eyes. The bio-inks could be varied in different combinations to create different eye qualities. The eyes would be bioprinted with a needle that drops cells that would then clump together.

MHOX proposes several models to be available by 2027: EYE Heal, EYE Enhance, and EYE Advance. The Enhance and Advance versions would work with a gland in the 3D printed eyes that, when coupled with an ingested pill, would trigger enzymes that would offer different color tones and visual accentuations in the Enhance version. In the Advance version, those enzymes would trigger a wi-fi gland in the eye that could record images and allow you to share your visual experiences with other people.

If the MHOX concept becomes reality, a person could choose new 3D printed eyeballs to remedy a condition such as glaucoma or myopia, to “enhance” your vision such as a Photoshop filter allows you to do with photographs, or to process images and record what you are seeing. Because the network of nerves and impulses would be artificially constructed, vision could, theoretically, be improved to better levels than today’s gold standard of 20/20 vision.

While the idea of removing your healthy natural eyes surgically and replacing them with 3D printed artificial eyes may seem unrealistic, for those with conditions such as macular degeneration the option could be life renewing. For those people, 2027 can’t come fast enough.