Robot Performs Surgery inside the Eye for the First Time Globally



For the first time in the world, ophthalmological surgeons engaged a robot for performing a surgery inside the eyeball for the first time in the world. A team of surgeons in John Radcliffe Hospital situated in Oxford took the help of a robotic device christened ‘Preceyes’ in order to extract an extremely thin membrane from the retinal wall inside the eye. Medical professionals guided a clinical needle into the retina using a joystick attached to the robot. The septuagenarian patient, Dr. Bill Beaver whose eye was operated upon robotically worked as a chaplain for the Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment till 2015.

Beaver who is now a curate in Oxford was extremely delighted to learn that he was the beneficiary of the world’s first robotic eye surgery and felt that it was a ‘fairytale’ experience. Ophthalmic surgeons increasingly feel that the successful operation conducted with robotic assistance will open the floodgates for similar and more complex optical surgeries in the future where robots will play a more critical role. Robots helping out surgeons in carrying out surgeries were nothing new as many computerized operations had been conducted in the past. However, it was for the first time that a robotic medical gadget was being harnessed to conduct a surgery within the eye.

Prof Robert McLaren attached to Oxford University the surgeon who steered the surgical process articulated that the procedure (carried out behind the eye) was an extremely complex and sophisticated that called for high-level precision. Till date this type of operation had been carried out by surgeons manually. Hence, the decision to use a robot to perform an identical surgery posed a great challenge to the surgery team. And the challenge lay in monitoring the robotic equipment to precisely pierce the retinal wall in a manner which didn’t cause any tear or rupture during the movement of the needle.

Generally robots in operation theaters tend to be large but in this case the engineering process required the robot to be miniaturized. Preceyes (the surgical robot) was innovated by a corporate offshoot of the Dutch Eindhoven University of Technology. The doctor handles a joystick to guide the needle in the eye and manipulates its movement by keeping his eyes glued on the robot’s touch-screen as well as by peering inside a microscope.

The robot equipped with seven motors functions as an extra automatic hand and is capable of picking up the faintest of surgeon’s hand’s vibrations. The surgeon finds it convenient to move the joystick without feeling that he might be inappropriately steering the control making him tensed as large steering leads to the robot moving minimally. It was in July that Dr. Beaver’s ophthalmologist observed a membranous growth in the right eye’s retina. This growth had caused the creation of an orifice that was adversely affecting his eyesight or vision. Prof McLaren opined that a manual operation generally caused a bleeding in the retinal wall as the area was touched by hand but with the robot, the membrane was plucked out smoothly from the eye without any hemorrhage.

Author Bio: Tony Rolland provides consulting services to Visual Systems Inc and he is an author of many articles on all types of optical and ophthalmic equipment. Author blogs about medicine, health, alternative healing, sport and healthy living.

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