The eyes have it

K-State constructs 3D-printed eyes to train future veterinarians

K-State vet students now use 3D-printed eyeballs to polish their exam skills for all kinds of future patients — dogs, cats, horses and even rabbits.

Using oversized eye globes developed through a collaboration between the College of Veterinary Medicine and K-State’s Technology Development Institute, students master required hand skills and muscle memory before they work on live animals.

How it works

These model eyes prepare students to check the fundus — the back of the inside of the eye that includes the retina and optic nerve.

The models stem from photos captured by K-State’s veterinary ophthalmologists. TDI engineers built models with a clear lens (cornea) and iris on one half and the fundus image 3D-printed on the other. By using the model eyes, students pick up the coordination skills to use an eye-inspection instrument called an ophthalmoscope. 

Why it matters

Why are the models needed? Because they lower the stakes, especially in early courses where students are building basic skills. With that foundation under their belts, students step up to the challenge of live patients with extra confidence.

These new models mark a step forward because they include the mid-range iris and the clear lens cornea — the outer layer of the eye — in addition to the fundus.

The idea was developed by Susan Rose, clinical skills instructor, and Shane Lyon, clinical associate professor and clinical skills instructor, to teach freshman and sophomore vet students. TDI’s Quinton Berggren, design and print engineer, and Bret Lanz, commercialization director, helped create the actual product.

What’s next?

The K-State team is marketing these training aids to other vet schools.

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Torrey lonker

Torrey Lonker Development Officer - Veterinary Medicine


Joan Burton

Joan Burton Executive Development Officer - Veterinary Medicine