A robotic eye surgeon has successfully operated on patients in Oxford.

Although having your eyes operated on by a robot is a rather scary thought, researchers from Oxford University have managed to successfully repair human eyes.

The surgery was performed at John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford, where six patients gave the go ahead for the artificial surgeons to perform the delicate operation. At the same time, six other patients had the same surgery completed by manual surgeons to compare the results.

The results were that the robots were actually able to equal or better the experienced human surgeons’ efforts.

This is a huge leap forward for delicate and technically difficult surgery, which in time should significantly improve the quality and safety of this kind of operation,” Robert MacLaren, professor of ophthalmology at the University of Oxford. “The trial also showed that the robot has great potential for extending the boundaries of what we can currently achieve.”

There’s huge scope for robotic surgeons in more complicated procedures in future too, he added.

“We can do the operations we do now without a robot but what we are thinking about is the next generation of operations in the future.”

Some of the applications include completely replacing membranes under the retina that are only fractions of millimeters thick.

“We can’t change human evolution but the robot gives us the ability to do the surgery with much more precision,” MacLaren said. “Our trial was not done to show the robot was more superior to humans. We’d have to do much more research to do that. It was to show that it was safe and can do the job as well.”