The trial, supported by the National Institute for Health Research Oxford Biomedical Research Centre, took place at Oxford’s John Radcliffe Hospital. It involved 12 patients and is published this week in Nature Biomedical Engineering.
Half were randomly allocated robot-assisted surgery and the other half to standard manual surgery to remove a membrane from the back of the eye. Using the robot, the surgeon was able to perform the procedure with equal or better efficacy than in the traditional manual approach. In the second phase of the trial, the team used the robot to insert a fine needle under the retina to dissolve blood in three patients who had age-related macular degeneration. All experienced an improvement in their vision as a result.