Is Ophthorobotics in Your Future?

Is Ophthorobotics in Your Future?

Posted under Low Vision Info

Many of us have heard the term “robotics” in the medical world especially when it comes to surgical procedures.  Robotic surgery or robot-assisted surgery aids the physician with the use of a camera, mechanical arms and a computer console.  The robotic surgical system allows for more precision and better control often making surgery less invasive with fewer complications.  This type of technology is used in many hospitals for prostate cancer, heart valve replacement, hysterectomies and for many other types of surgeries.


So what does robotics have to do with macular degeneration?  There are two types of age related macular degeneration (AMD), dry and wet AMD.  Wet AMD is treated with injections directly into the eye, sometimes as frequently as once a month but the frequency is different for each person depending on their response and the choice of medication.  Specially trained eye doctors give the injections to patients after first preparing the eye with a local anesthetic and disinfectant. The injection is given in the outermost corner of the eye held open with a lid speculum, while the patient remains completely still.


A new start up company, Ophthrobotics, founded by researchers from The Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) in Zurich and retina specialists from Triemli Hospital, is developing an injection robot that in the future can give the eye injections with an even greater degree of safety.   “Our robot will be the first to help in administering eye injections,” says Franziska Ullrich, the CEO of Ophthorobotics and mechanical engineer at ETH.  What are the benefits of ophthorobotics?


  1. “The robot makes the injection more precise and thus safer,” explains Ullrich.

The robotic system includes two cameras that produces a 3D image of the eye and then calculates where the eye should be injected.  It then precisely positions the needle which provides better accuracy.  After the ophthalmologist checks the screen and the settings a button is pressed and the injection is administered.


  1. The robot can react faster than a physician can. The device includes several sensors that can detect whether a patient is about to move their eye before the injection begins.  If any type of movement is detected the injection is stopped.


  1. The robot can accurately identify a patient with an iris scan preventing injections from being given in the wrong eye or to the wrong patient.


  1. The exact location of the injection is recorded so that the device calculates a minutely different position for the next injection to prevent thinning of the sclera.


Researchers are working to develop the existing prototype so that it can used in the clinical setting.  To read more about this high tech robotic system visit the news updates from


Leslie Degner, RN, BSN