New studies show clinical benefits for ophthalmology patients

3D printing and new approach to finding glasses lenses offer faster and more cost-effective approaches to care

Vancouver, BC ─ Two new studies presented this week at the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (ARVO) 2019 Annual Meeting in Vancouver, British Columbia, may save money and time for ophthalmologists treating patients with eye conditions. One study shows, for the first time that three-dimensional (3D) printing can be used to create a common tool used by eye care professionals for far less cost. A second study shows that a new approach to finding the right lens combination for patients is faster and more accurate.

Both studies may lead to more efficient and cost-effective clinical treatment for eye patients in the future.

3D printing offers more cost-effective tool for eye care professionals

Researchers at the University of Minnesota found that it is possible to reproduce and customize a costly and often misplaced eye tool, called a scleral depressor, with three-dimensional (3-D) printing. Paul Mallory, MD, and his team used a 3-D printer and software to engineer a new scleral depressor, which is essential to diagnose and treat retinal conditions such as retinal detachment.

The tool created by Mallory and his team costs a fraction to produce compared to the cheapest commercially available depressor ̶ $0.05 as opposed to $14.00. Importantly, the printed tool had comparable structural dimensions and strength potential compared with the commercial model. The 3-D printing material used for the tool is a non-toxic and biodegradable derivative of natural substances such as corn and sugarcane.

“Utilizing new technology in 3D-printing, clinical tools for eye exams such as scleral depressors can be customized and manufactured at a fraction of traditional costs,” said Mallory, lead author on the study. “The savings and availability of this production method directly benefits patients, as it gives providers easier access to optimized resources required for the diagnosis and treatment of ophthalmic disease regardless of practice setting.”

Abstract title: Utilizing three-dimensional printing for the production of a scleral depressor: A technical assessment and primer for clinical integration
Presentation start/end time: Thursday, May 2, 10:15am – 12:00noon
Abstract Number: 6594 - A0293

New technique for finding correct lenses saves time and improves accuracy

Researchers from the Spanish National Research Council in Madrid, Spain found a faster and more accurate way for doctors to find the right glasses lenses for patients. In an initial, small study, Victor Rodríguez-Lopez and Carlos Dorronsoro explored a better approach to subjective refraction, which is a trial and error process that is used by ophthalmologists and other eye care professionals to find the right lenses to correct a patient’s vision. The process involves patient input and can take a significant amount of time to find the right combination of lenses.

Rodriguez-Lopez and Dorronsoro used a different approach that involved patients viewing black dot patterns on a magenta background, through a new optical device producing a ‘defocus wave’. The patients then adjusted the power of the defocus wave themselves to reduce the flicker and the chromatic effects induced in the image.

The researchers found that among the four patients tested, the new method was four times more accurate and was completed much faster – under one minute – saving time and money in setting up patients with eye glasses to correct vision.

“We know that finding the correct lenses for patients is a timely process that must involve the patient indicating when a lens corrects vision,” said Rodriguez-Lopez, lead author on the study. “However, we found that adjusting the technique used for this process saved time and offered a more accurate process.” The next step is to test this on a larger group to see if this is a feasible approach to finding lenses for patients,” said Dorronsoro, principal investigator.

Abstract title: Direct subjective refraction with temporal defocus waves
Presentation start/end time: Wednesday, May 1, 8:30 – 8:45 am
Location: West 223/224
Paper Session Presentation Number: 4265
New studies show clinical benefits for ophthalmology patients
3D printing and new approach to finding glasses lenses offer faster and more cost-effective approaches to care


The Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (ARVO) is the largest eye and vision research organization in the world. Members include nearly 12,000 eye and vision researchers from over 75 countries. ARVO advances research worldwide into understanding the visual system and preventing, treating and curing its disorders. Learn more at
The 2019 ARVO Annual Meeting will take place in Vancouver, BC from April 28 – May 2. The Meeting is the premiere gathering of nearly 12,000 eye and vision researchers from around the world. During the Meeting, more than 6,600 abstracts will be presented on the latest basic and translational research in eye and vision science.

All abstracts accepted for presentation at the ARVO Annual Meeting represent previously unpublished data and conclusions. This research may be proprietary or may have been submitted for journal publication. Embargo policy: Journalists must seek approval from the presenter(s) before reporting data from paper or poster presentations. Press releases or stories on information presented at the ARVO Annual Meeting may not be released or published until the conclusion of the presentation.

Media contact:
Julene Joy