British surgeons have performed the world’s first robotic operation inside an eye.
Father William Beaver, 70, an associate priest at St Mary the Virgin Church in Oxford, reported that his eyesight was returning following the pioneering procedure.
The priest had been battling distorted vision which he described as similar to “looking in a hall of mirrors at a fairground”.
His eyesight is now returning after surgeons completed the procedure at Oxford’s John Radcliffe Hospital.
Now it is hoped that the successful operation could revolutionise the way such conditions are treated.
Professor Robert MacLaren, one of the surgeons, said: “There is no doubt in my mind that we have just witnessed a vision of eye surgery in the future”.
The procedure had become necessary as Father Beaver had a membrane growing on the surface of his retina, which had contracted and pulled it into an uneven shape.
That membrane was about 100th of a millimetre thick and needed to be dissected off the retina without damaging it.
Surgeons normally attempt this by slowing their pulse and timing movements between heart beats, but the robot could make it much easier.
During the procedure, medics used a joystick and touchscreen outside the eye to control the robot while monitoring its progress through the operating microscope.
This gave them a notable advantage as significant movements of the joystick resulted in tiny movements of the robot.