Did you know...

  • That worldwide:
       - 50-70 million people suffer from visual impairment due to disorders of the retina*.
       - Adequate treatment is still impossible in many cases.
       - Over 6.5 million people with vetroretinal diseases are treated annually.
       - 20% of those treatments include highly-delicate surgical procedures, 1.3 mio. people.

  • The World Health Organization estimates that of the 39.3 million blind people across the world close to 2 million people (5%) are blind due to AMD (Age-related Macular Degeneration) - Source: Nano Retina

  • Preceyes - a Dutch company which originated as a spin-off from the University of Eindhoven - developed the world's first robotic system for eye surgery, specially designed for the treatment of retina disorders.

* Retina: a delicate, multilayered, light-sensitive membrane lining the inner eyeball and connected by the optic nerve to the brain.

Promising new treatment

The Preceyes engineers developed a completely new robotic system for eye surgery, which improves precision by a factor of 10 to 20 and will enable operations that are currently impossible. This device was specially designed for the treatment of retina disorders and is currently undergoing clinical trials in collaboration with Oxford University.

The technology promises to improve the safety and performance of existing ocular surgery as well as to enable the development of new treatments such as high-precision drug delivery, assisting eye surgeons in performing the most demanding surgucal tasks to fight blindness. 

Retinal Degenerative Diseases

The two most prevalent retinal degenerative diseases are - Age Related Macular Degeneration (AMD) primarily affecting people age 60 and older, and Retinitis Pigmentosa, a genetic condition that is one of the most common causes of blindness in young people worldwide.

In short

Common to all retinal degenerative diseases is the damage to photoreceptor cells of the retina, which malfunction and disappear. The photoreceptor cells are the light sensing cells of the retina, the delicate nerve layer that lines the back of the eye.
Normally, the retina's photoceptor cells sense light (similar to the way a camera captures a picture), initiate a cascade of electrical impulses that are sent through the retina and the optic nerve to the brain and create an image. When the photoreceptor cells malfunction due to the degenerative disease, the image that is received is blurred, distorted or completely unseen. This is often a progressive desease in which the person will suffer a continuous decline in vision.

Providing a safe and stable operating device

There's not a robot yet that can take the place of a surgeon - and we will probably not see one anytime soon. But for many surgical procedures, robots can make a good surgeon even better. 

Eye surgery is a delicate discipline that requires years of training experience and the highest level of motor skills. Worldwide, over 6.5 million people with vitreoretinal diseases are treated annually, 20% of which includes highly-delicate surgical procedures. The PRECEYES Surgical System facilitates these treatments by assisting eye surgeons in performing the most demanding surgical tasks. 

One cm translated to one mm

The functional principle of the system is straightforward: while the operating surgeon is sitting next to the patient's head looking through a microscope, he is operating a joystick whose motion is transmitted to a robotic arm (slave). The robot scales the motion down. This means that when the surgeon moves the joystick by a centimeter, the tip of the robotic arm moves only a millimeter. Meanwhile the other hand performs manual tasks as required.

The system is designed to allow surgeries to be performed purily with motion control as well.

"This will help to develop novel surgical treatments for blindness, such as gene therapy and stem cells, which need to be insterted under the retina with a high degree of precision."  - Professor Maclaren, Oxford University.

Precise movements


The robot acts like a mechanical hand with seven independent computer-controlled motors resulting in movements as precise as 1000th of a milimeter in scale.

Eliminating Tremors

The robot needs to operate inside the eye through a single hole that is less than 1 mm in diameter and it needs to go in and out of the eye through this same hole during various steps of the procedure, even though the eye may rotate. 

The device is designed to eliminate unwanted tremors in the surgeon's hand - such as through their pulse - so tiny surgical manipulations can be safely carried out within the eye. 

The surgeon uses a joystick and touchscreen outside the eye to control the robot whilst monitoring its progress through the operating microscope. This gives the surgeon a notable advantage as significant movements of the joystick result in tiny movements of the robot.

Contact us

E-mail: sales.nl@maxonmotor.com

Phone: +31 (0)53 744 07 44