by David Geer
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To assist ophthalmologists who perform difficult eye surgeries, Thijs Meenink (a
doctoral candidate as of this writing) and Dr. Ron Hendrix, PhD from Eindhoven
University of Technology, the Netherlands (with input from Dr. Marc de Smet)
have created an eye surgery robot. This robot can help surgeons to be more
accurate, making new types of surgeries possible. The Eye-Rhas (
Eye-robot-for-haptically-assisted surgery) system is ideal for retinal surgeries which require
extreme precision in order to perform them.
Ophthalmologists have made great strides with surgical
achievements. “We used to take the whole lense out for
cataract surgery. Now, we can place the lense in the eye.
The end result is that the patient can see far away and read
at the same time,” says Dr. Marc de Smet. The surgeries are
performed through increasingly smaller openings, offering
quicker healing time and less trauma.
The tremor of any eye surgeon — young or old — is
such that they can only operate at a scale of 80 to 100
microns in the best of circumstances, according to Dr. Smet.
The eye surgery robot is expected to ease procedures at the
70 micron level while making them virtually error free.
Using this robot, a surgeon could separate the retinal tissue
flawlessly with very fine forceps.
The Eye-Rhas system will enable veteran surgeons who
happen to have the most knowledge, experience, and skill
to continue operating past the time when their hands
trembling becomes worse.
“We first must go through a medical program to
become ophthalmologists, then another program to
become retinal surgeons. Then, we
must acquire five years experience
to work up to the most difficult
procedures,” explains Dr. Smet. By
that time, a surgeon only has
another 10 to 15 years of practice
when they can operate successfully
This photo shows the active part of
the robot that performs the eye
surgeries. The active part includes
two instrument manipulators
suspended via a short support arm
on the right and a tall support arm
on the left. The support arms permit
pre-surgical adjustments in height and
are connected to the headrest where
the patient's head lies. Inside the
headrest, the ophthalmologist can
make X and Y adjustments in the
horizontal plane. The surgical
instruments consist of the partially
black bodies with a hose at one end
and the needle at the other end.
10 SERVO 02.2012