In September of 2016, surgeons at the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford, England performed a first-of-its-kind, robot-assisted surgery inside of a patient’s eye. Doctors Robert Maclaren and Thomas Edwards from the University of Oxford‘s Nuffield Department of Medicine spearheaded the Robotic Retinal Dissection Device (R2D2) trial with funding support from the NHS Foundation Trust and Dutch charitable organization, Zizoz.
The goal of this procedure was to remove a membrane growing on the surface of the patient’s retina that was causing partial blindness in the center of the right eye’s field of vision. The membrane was 1/100th of a millimeter thick, and had to be removed through a one millimeter hole in the side of the patient’s eye. The R2D2 device was able to eliminate any tremors that may have been present in the surgeons’ hand movements and helped them reinsert the dissection tool through the minuscule opening, even if the eye shifted during the operation.