Robotic Surgeon Performs First Eye Surgery


Robots are playing a major role in our day to day lives. Medical science seems to be using robotic surgeon in various surgical operations but this is a first. Never before has a robot-assisted a surgery inside the eye. Currently, most of the robots used in the surgical procedures are big and bulky they needed to be chopped down to size to suit the tiny procedure needed during an eye surgery. The Preceyes surgical robot is developed by a Dutch company, a spin-out of Eindhoven University of Technology,Netherlands.

Prof Robert MacLaren from the¬†University of Oxford, who led the procedure, told BBC correspondent : “Operating at the back of the eye needs great precision, and the challenge has been to get a robot system to do that through a tiny hole in the wall of the eye without causing damage as it moves around.

“Most robots in ¬†a theatre are big, with big engineering whereas this is tiny – everything had to be shrunk down.”
A joystick and a touch screen is used by the surgeon to guide a thin needle into the eye. The progress can be monitored via a microscope, whereas the robot consists of seven motors which act like a mechanical hand. This mechanical hand is able to filter out the hand tremors from the surgeon.
Robot replicates the large movements from the joystick to tiny movements and if the grip is released by the surgeon it remains frozen.surgeon-technosearch-3About The Patient

Rev Beaver an officiating chaplain at the Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment was chosen for the surgery.
Prof MacLaren said: “Normally when we do this operation by hand we touch the retina and there is some haemorrhage, but when we used the robot the membrane was lifted cleanly away.”
Rev Beaver’s central vision in his right eye has been restored because of the surgery. He feels like it was “a fairytale”.
Rev Beaver said: “The degeneration in my vision was very scary and I was fearful I would lose my sight entirely – so for this intervention to take place so effortlessly is a real godsend.”

About the Future

The trial is designed to ascertain the use of robots in an eye surgery, though the ultimate goal is to take surgery to another level.

Prof MacLaren said: “There is no doubt in my mind that we have just witnessed a vision of eye surgery in the future. We can certainly improve on current operations, but I hope the robot will allow us to do new more complex and delicate operations that are impossible with the human hand.”

Oxford Biomedical Research Centre is one the many centres around the world following Retinal gene therapy – a new treatment to prevent blindness presently done by hand. Further interventions involving stem cell injections are planned which require cells to be slowly infused into the eye.surgeon-technosearch-2The robots are able to do this procedure in about 10 minutes, which would be impossible with the human hand. The Dutch company which developed the robot feels in the near future they could eventually be used outside the operating theatre.

Maarten Beelen from Preceyes said: “In the future, we could see this being used in an office-based setting, where only the robot would touch the eye and it would be fully automated, which would improve efficiency and reduce costs.”

Surgeons hope the procedure will pave the way to conduct more complex eye surgery in the near future than is currently possible with the human hand.

The robot system is a prototype and the purchase price is not yet revealed.


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