A new smart eye-surgery robot has been developed by researcher Thijs Meenink at the Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e), the Netherlands. The Eye-RHAS (Robot For Haptically Assisted Surgery) will make it possible to operate on the retina and the vitreous humour with more ease and precision.
The robot consists of a master and a slave. The ophthalmologist controls and operates from the master using two joysticks. The slave, which also consists of two joysticks, can copy the movements and thus carry out the operation. It also features a system in which the instruments can be changed very quickly, which can reduce the operating time significantly. In eye operations it is required to operate with high precision. To achieve a higher precision, the system can filter out hand tremors of surgeons and also by scaling down movements of the surgeon’s fingers. This means that a big movement with the master joystick will be translated into a smaller movement of the slave joystick that holds the instrument. The system also provides haptic feedback, meaning the surgeons will be able to feel the effects of their actions.
The new system can lead to the next step in the evolution of microsurgery in ophthalmology and might lead to the development of new, more precise eye procedures. The system is ready for use, but Meenink intends to optimize it first. It is expected that the first surgery on humans will be within five years. After he defends his thesis on his work on the robot, he intends to commercially investigate the opportunities of this system.
Here’s an excellent video from TU/e explaining the workings of the robotic system:
Press release: Vitreo-retinal eye surgery robot : sustainable precision…