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Robot used to operate in an eye for the first time

By Tim Sandle     Sep 10, 2016 in Science
Oxford - A robot has been used to complete an operation inside a patient's eye for the first time. The operation has been hailed as a success for surgical robotics.
The pioneering operation was undertaken by medical scientists at Oxford's John Radcliffe Hospital. The medics used the device, which was controlled via a joystick, to remove a membrane one hundredth of a millimeter thick from within the eye of a patient. The operation was declared a success and the patient was able to see properly again.
The robotic device was built and programmed to operate with great precision. The robotic device entered the eye through a tiny hole created by a surgeon. Medics then used a computer program to manipulate the device so that it could complete the procedure.
The robot is named the Preceyes surgical robot. The device was developed by a Dutch company, a spin-out of Eindhoven University of Technology. The robot operates with an accuracy of better than 10 microns. This means it can perform operations in the vein of a retina — which is the size of a human hair.
The procedure was led by Professor Robert MacLaren, who explained to The Daily Telegraph the advantages of using a robotic device. "Operating at the back of the eye needs great precision and the challenge", the surgeon stated. "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."
Speaking with BBC News after the operation, the patient, Bill Beaver aged 70, said it was "a fairytale", adding "I'm just fortunate that I'm the first to have it."
Robert MacLaren, Professor of Ophthalmology at the University of Oxford commented: '“Over the last century, devices that enhance surgical precision have given us the greatest breakthroughs in ophthalmology." He added the institution was delighted to have been the first "to assess use of a robotic device for surgery inside the eye."
It is hoped the initial operation will be the first of many and that even more complex eye surgery can be undertaken. The medical team aim to carry out further investigations.
More about eye robot, eye operation, Eyes, Robots
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