Abu Dhabi: Abu Dhabi’s Khalifa University of Science and Technology has developed a new method to manufacture customised glasses using 3D printing that can help people with colour blindness.
Colour Vision Deficiency (CVD) is an inherited ocular disorder that manifests itself in limiting the retina cones’ ability to transmit the whole spectrum of colours. With red-green colour blindness being the most prevalent form of CVD, the most common way of dealing with everyday difficulties is in wearing tinted glasses.
Researchers at Khalifa University have developed lenses using transparent resin mixed with two wavelength-filtering dyes to provide a tinting effect. To customise the lenses and make them as similar as possible to commercially available products, the team used two dyes – one blocked the undesired wavelengths for red-green patients, while the other filtered unwanted wavelengths for yellow-blue patients, with volunteers for both groups attesting to the lenses’ efficacy.
Even though glasses based on this method are commercially available at present, they are not comfortable for wearing, nor optimisable. But the Khalifa University research team has developed its own frames for the lenses, using 3D printing to optimise the frames for comfort and usability, making them as close as possible to regular glasses.
“Our results showed that 3D printing had no influence on the wavelength-filtering properties of the dyes. In fact, the dyes remained unchanged as they were integrated with the resin and 3D printed. When we compared the optical performance of our glasses with commercial glasses for colour blindness, our results indicated that our 3D-printed glasses were more selective in filtering undesired wavelengths than the commercially available options. They have great potential in treating colour blindness, and their ease of fabrication and customisation means they can be tailored to suit each individual patient,” said Dr Haider Butt, associate professor for Mechanical Engineering at Khalifa University.
The glasses underwent several tests to address toxicity, durability and longevity concerns. These tests included storing the glasses in water for over a week to analyse whether any dye would leak, and leaving them out in the open at ambient conditions for another week. The glasses exhibited tensile strength and flexibility, proving their stability and long-lasting properties.
Khalifa University’s research outcome presents an opportunity for people with colour blindness to mitigate their inability to distinguish between shades of certain colors that could restrict them from working in fields where color recognition is critical, in addition to carrying out everyday tasks.
The research was funded by organisations from Abu Dhabi, including real estate developer Aldar Properties, and Sandooq Al Watan, a social initiative.