Subscribe to Newsletter
Business & Profession Business and Innovation, Retina, Health Economics and Policy

Robert MacLaren on Making History

How did you first get involved with the Preceyes project?

We’ve been collaborating for a while, and we were initially interested in using a robotic system to help with our work in gene therapy – ideally to stabilize the needle during the injection of the virus, to cause minimal damage to the retina.

What kind of training and preparation was involved before today?

Along with three members of my surgical team, I made several visits to Eindhoven, where Preceyes is based, to work with the technicians and engineers there to learn how to use the system. We practiced on pig and artificial eyes, and talked about how we might develop a gene therapy system as ultimately, that’s what we really want to do. After that, we set about training the staff in Oxford, and getting everything we needed in place to prepare for the first patient having surgery today.

How did you convince the patient to participate in the first ever robotic-assisted surgery?

You’d be surprised – a lot of our patients are very keen to be involved in innovative research like this. This particular patient actually comes from a family interested in ophthalmology, so he was very keen to be involved because his father was an ophthalmologist, and he felt that he wanted to be involved in something new. I think this was also a form of respect for his father, who was a very well-known ophthalmologist in his time.

You performed an ILM peel today. What’s next?

We are going into it slowly. The ILM peel is a procedure in retinal surgery where absolute precision is required, so we were testing the machine to its limits by lifting the ILM without actually causing any hemorrhage in the retina. The next stage will likely be subretinal injections. Eventually we hope to incorporate this into a gene therapy program for injecting viral vectors.

How did the procedure go today?

Extremely well. The operation itself was faultless, and the robot performed, I think, to the best level of expectation one could imagine for a human hand. It took a little time to get set up, and that’s something we’ll get more accustomed to. But overall, I’m absolutely delighted – the operation went as planned and the patient will be very happy.

Receive content, products, events as well as relevant industry updates from The Ophthalmologist and its sponsors.

When you click “Subscribe” we will email you a link, which you must click to verify the email address above and activate your subscription. If you do not receive this email, please contact us at [email protected].
If you wish to unsubscribe, you can update your preferences at any point.

About the Author
Mark Hillen

I spent seven years as a medical writer, writing primary and review manuscripts, congress presentations and marketing materials for numerous – and mostly German – pharmaceutical companies. Prior to my adventures in medical communications, I was a Wellcome Trust PhD student at the University of Edinburgh.

Related Product Profile
Uncover the Unique DNA of SPECTRALIS®

| Contributed by Heidelberg Engineering

Product Profiles

Access our product directory to see the latest products and services from our industry partners

Most Popular
Register to The Ophthalmologist

Register to access our FREE online portfolio, request the magazine in print and manage your preferences.

You will benefit from:
  • Unlimited access to ALL articles
  • News, interviews & opinions from leading industry experts
  • Receive print (and PDF) copies of The Ophthalmologist magazine



The Ophthalmologist website is intended solely for the eyes of healthcare professionals. Please confirm below: