First Robot-aided Eye Surgery Successful in Two-part Clinical Trial


surgeons/ Photo By UfaBizPhoto via Shutterstock


For the first time, patients at John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford, England underwent eye surgeries with a robot assistant. The procedures were a part of a clinical trial to determine if robots can improve the performance of surgeons.

In the first phase of the trial, 12 patients had been randomly grouped into two. The first group was scheduled to receive an eye surgery from human surgeons. The second group was assigned to receive the same surgery but with the surgeon assisted by a robot. The eye surgery involved the dissection of the epiretinal membrane and inner limiting membrane of the macula, located in the central part of the retina that regulates fine visual acuity. After the first phase, the surgeons reported that having a robot assist with the procedure allowed them to perform equal to or better than the standard manual method.

In the second phase, the research team used the robot to dissolve the blood in three patients who had age-related macular degeneration. They employed the machine to insert a fine needle under the retina of the patients. After the procedure, the patients reported an improvement in their vision.

“This is a huge leap forward for delicate and technically difficult surgery, which in time should significantly improve the quality and safety of this kind of operation. The trial also showed that the robot has great potential for extending the boundaries of what we can currently achieve,” said Robert MacLaren, the corresponding author of the study and a professor of ophthalmology at the University of Oxford.

Professor Marc D de Smet, the chief medical officer of Preceyes BV, the medical robotics firm that developed the Preceyes Surgical System used in the trial, said that the results confirmed the safety and precision of their robotic design.