You’re the patient? Excellent, please lie down on this table. I’ll be your doctor today but will be working from the next room, remotely controlling the needle-wielding robot above you—I’ll try not to sneeze! Just kidding. So, who’s ready for some eye surgery?
The device above is the brainchild of Thijs Meenink, a PhD student from the Eindhoven University of Technology in the Netherlands. Its design is similar to the da Vinci Surgical System except that Meenink’s uses two sets of control modules—a master and a slave—rather than a single module like the da Vinci. This secondary slave unit helps to filter out a surgeon’s hand tremors and prevent accidental damage to the eye. So, if a ophthalmologist jerks away by a centimeter, the system will only move a millimeter.
Its suite of tools each measure just a half-millimeter wide and can be hot-swapped in a matter of seconds. Their slimness also allows the tools to reenter the same tiny opening over and over again, rather than punching new holes every time the tool is instered into the eye. A haptic feedback system in the joysticks also lets the surgeon know he’s hit eyeball—aside from your blood-curdling screams, of course.