These 3D printed glasses could be the cure for color blind people, research shows

The lenses were created from a translucent resin that was tinted by combining it with two wavelength-filtering dyes.
Nergis Firtina
Looking through glasses to bleach nature landscape with blue sky and yellow field.
Looking through glasses to bleach nature landscape with blue sky and yellow field.

Maria Vonotna 

A new wearable has been created by a team of experts from Khalifa University that may benefit those who are color blind.

The research team has devised a technique employing 3D printing to produce personalized glasses.

The study was published in Advanced Engineering Materials on April 21.

Even though using dyes to develop lenses for spectacles to correct colorblindness is not novel, these 3D glasses seem to break fresh ground.

The lenses were created from a translucent resin tinted by combining it with two wavelength-filtering dyes. The researchers customized the lenses using three different dye concentrations and contrasted their 3D-printed spectacles with commercially available options for treating color vision deficiencies (CVD).

These 3D printed glasses could be the cure for color blind people, research shows
The 3D printing of glasses.

Color blindness is the absence or deficiency of a special pigment molecule in the visual center of a living thing. In either scenario, people are not able to distinguish various colors.

Three cone types exist on the eye's retina; each can distinguish between blue, green, and red light. The ability to perceive the whole range of colors is achievable only when all three cones work together, but color vision deficiency (CVD), a hereditary eye illness, restricts this capacity.

Most people use wearables to see colors

The most common type of CVD is red-green color blindness, and most patients use wearables to manage the challenges they have doing daily chores. The most popular type of wearable is tinted glass.

In this regard, Dr. Haider Butt, Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering, Dr. Fahad Alam, Postdoctoral Fellow, Dr. Mohamed Elsherif, Postdoctoral Fellow, and Ahmed Salih put all their efforts into making color blind people's life much easier.

“Patient-specific customization of glasses for CVD remains a challenge, even though research has significantly advanced the properties and materials of CVD wearables available on the market,” Dr. Butt said.

The two dyes used to build the novel 3D glasses

As said in the statement, a type of CVD known as deuteranomaly and that primarily affects men causes the photoreceptor in charge of detecting green light to react to red light. Red-tinted glasses can help with this by enhancing the colors' visibility.

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Some of the wavelengths between green and red that confuse the photoreceptors can be absorbed and filtered out by certain dyes. The brain receives a sharper signal to aid in differentiating between the problematic colors when there is less color overlap. The other types of CVD can also be included in this idea. Thus, the team used two dyes.

One blocked the undesired wavelengths for red-green patients, while the other filtered unwanted wavelengths for yellow-blue patients.

The statement also brought up the issue of bulkiness in earlier versions of the glasses. To address this, the team employed 3D printing to produce customizable frames for comfortable usage. The KU research team claims they created their own frames for their lenses.

The use of dyes can be challenging due to toxicity and leaching issues, according to research on CVD management strategies. Nevertheless, the research team examined this to make sure their glasses were safe for long-term usage.

The 3D-printed glasses were placed in water for a week to test the colors' stability. Its findings demonstrated their stability by showing no dye spilled into the water. Additionally, the strength and durability of the glasses were shown by leaving them open in ambient settings for an additional week.

Study Abstract

Color vision deficiency (CVD) is a common ocular disorder that hampers patients’ color distinction capabilities, causing difficulties in their daily life routine. Till date, a CVD cure is not developed, and treatment courses, such as gene therapy, are yet to be applied on humans. Hence, patients opt for wearable visual aids such as tinted glasses/contact lenses, which achieve the latter by filtering out problematic wavelengths for blue–yellow (440–500 nm) and red–green (540–580 nm) CVD patients, thus, enabling them to distinguish between the colors. Herein, the development of 3D printed glasses for color blindness management is reported. A commercially available highly transparent resin (>95%) is utilized, and two wavelength filtering dyes, with absorption ranges of 550–580 and 440–510 nm, respectively, are mixed with the resin. The tinted glasses are successfully 3D printed using a Masked SLA 3D printer; dyes incorporated within the glasses exhibit high stability over 1-week period. The manufactured glasses successfully block more than 50% of the undesired wavelengths along with showing high transparency (>85%) to the remaining portion of the visible light spectrum. When using the developed glasses, volunteers show substantial improvements in Ishihara test scores, which signify the potential of these glasses as CVD wearables.