Researchers test 3D-printed, self-moisturizing contact lens

Researchers are investigating a 3D-printed self-moisturizing contact lens that could be a catalyst for the development of next-generation contact lens-based medical devices.

A 3D-printed self-moisturizing contact lens is currently being investigated as a catalyst for the development of next-generation contact lens-based medical devices.

Researchers from the Manipal Academy of Higher Education in India are using a novel approach to 3D printing by developing the self-moisturizing contact lenses using AutoCAD and stereolithography, which is a common 3D-printing technology.1

A graphical abstract of the self-moisutrizing conact lens.

A graphical abstract of the self-moisutrizing contact lens.

Graphic credit: Aravind, M, Chidangil S, and George SD; Manipal Academy of Higher Education

The structure includes a concave mold that has a 15 mm diameter, a 8.5 mm base curve, and a step size in the manufacturing process of 10 µm. The optic zone of the contact lens is then smoothened following printing and is replicated onto polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS), which is a soft elastomer material.1

Major components of the lens include the curved microchannels within the structure, allowing for its self-moisturizing abilities. Additionally, the lens features favorable optical transmission.

In the study, published in the July 2022 issue of Additive Manufacturing, investigators found that the lens structure’s layer resolution was what determined the microchannels’ dimensions—longer channels that were printed in the middle of the lens had reduced length at the edges of the printed constructs.

Despite this, however, the study authors reported that, when exposed to oxygen plasma, they discovered the structures became hydrophilic, allowing for capillary-driven fluid flow and moisturizing the printed constructs.

In conclusion, the investigators reported that the novel approach accomplishes two items: improving the self-moisturizing capabilities of printed contact lenses and providing a platform for future development of contact lenses with lab-on-a-chip capabilities—paving the way for the lenses to work as functional real-time biomarker-probing applications.


1. Aravind M, Chidangil S, George SD. Self-moisturizing contact lens employing capillary flow. Additive Manufacturing. July 2022. Accessed May 10, 2022.

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