UCT to Release 3D Printed Medical Device into the Public Domain

9 Dec 2016 - 13:30

The Ptosis Crutch is an adjustable crutch for Ocular Myasthenia Gravis (MG) patients which affects eye muscles, resulting in the patients struggling to control and raise their eyelids.  This ultimately affects the patient’s vision and current remedies include surgery, medication or the use of a crutch. Patients with the active Ocular MG disease are not advised to undergo surgery because they would have to undergo multiple surgeries to keep correcting a droopy eyelid. Also, not all patients respond positively to medication, in which cases the ptosis crutch is the best option.

UCT inventors Dr Sudesh Sivarasu, Megan Findlay and Prof. Jeannine Heckmann have designed an adjustable ptosis device which offers a simple, effective and unobtrusive solution to elevate the drooping upper eyelid(s) above the visual axis of the Ocular MG patients. Compared to the permanently fitted crutches on the spectacles, the UCT-developed Ptosis Crutch offers additional benefits such as:

  • Modularity in fixing the crutches on to the patient’s own spectacles.         
  • it can be detached from a patient’s spectacles,
  • the crutch bar makes contact with the eyelid at the position of the eye crease and it is manufactured from a material that is comfortable to skin and allows the patient to blink without much effort,
  • it is modular and adjustable to fit the protrusion and size of their eyelid as well as the required elevation for the eyelid to clear the visual axis,
  • it is able to be manufactured at low cost via 3D printing.
  • The cost of the device allows this to be a fully disposable device
  • The device could be used for multiple other clinical conditions as well


With an approval from the National Intellectual Property Management Office, RC&I and the inventors will be releasing the medical device into the public domain for free of use.  Information will be available which will include downloadable files for the 3D printing so that a medical practitioner can facilitate the ‘printing’ of a devices for their patients as required.  This is a first for UCT and South Africa’s first 3D printed disposable medical device.

The inventors are also collaborating with various optometrists (or any other interested optometrist) who will be making the Ptosis Crutch part of their corporate social responsibility programs.  The device is a product made at the Medical Devices lab of UCT - Biomedical Engineering.