Steady hands — a robot just helped doctors perform a novel eye surgery

Ommetaphobics, look away. If the idea of something touching your eye makes you a bit queasy, you certainly won’t like a medical innovation involving a robot, a needle, and your retinal vein. All the same, it’s an important development in the field of ophthalmology.

Belgian eye surgeons became the first to use a surgical robot to operate on a patient with retinal vein occlusion this week, with the robot employing a truly minuscule needle to do its work. Measuring barely 0.03 millimeters, the needle was used to inject a clot-dissolving drug into the patient’s retinal vein. Both the robot and the needle were made specifically for the surgery.

If the proof is in the pudding, consider this operation dessert. The process proved that it is indeed possible to dissolve a blood clot directly from the retinal vein — that is, if you have a robot to help you. This could lead to new treatments for retinal vein occlusion, which if left untreated, can lead to blindness. Currently, treatment for the disorder requires monthly injections in the eye, and while this reduces the effects of the blood clot, it does not completely remove the clot. This new injection method, however, changes the game.

The introduction of robots to the treatment has allowed for medicine to go where it has never gone before. Even the steadiest of human hands would not be able to hold such a small needle still for an extended period of time. A robot, however, can. While a surgeon is responsible for guiding the hair-thin needle into the vein, the robot eliminates any vibrations, which increases precision by a factor of 10. Once the retinal vein has been reached, the doctor can stabilize both the needle and the eye, allowing for the safe injection of the thrombolytic drug.

Not only is this treatment the first to truly address the problem at its core, it’s also significantly more affordable than previous alternatives. While current treatments can cost tens of thousands of dollars, ” … you’re only treating the side effects and that there is little more you can do than avoid reducing eyesight,” said Professor Peter Stalmans, eye surgeon at University Hospitals Leuven. “This is a high price tag, The robotic device finally enables us to treat the cause of the thrombosis in the retina. I look forward to what is next: if we succeed, we will literally be able to make blind people see again.”

Mobile

The best CES 2019 health gadgets combat stress, pain, and more

We can all use some help with our health and CES 2019 was packed with intriguing devices designed to combat pain and stress, help you monitor blood pressure, reduce tinnitus, and care for the sick or elderly.
Movies & TV

The best shows on Netflix, from 'Haunting of Hill House’ to ‘Norsemen’

Looking for a new show to binge? Lucky for you, we've curated a list of the best shows on Netflix, whether you're a fan of outlandish anime, dramatic period pieces, or shows that leave you questioning what lies beyond.
Movies & TV

Epic sci-fi novels you should read before they become blockbuster films

You can get ahead of the next crop of science-fiction movies coming out of Hollywood by picking up the books that inspired them. We compiled a list of books you can add to your reading list now to get a glimpse of the future.
Gaming

These are the classic NES games that helped redefine gaming

The NES left an indelible mark on pop culture and revolutionized the gaming industry. Check out our picks for the best NES games, whether you prefer an immersive RPG, side-scrolling brawler, or something else entirely.
Emerging Tech

Earth’s magnetic field is shifting, vital map can’t be updated due to shutdown

The Earth's magnetic field is moving, effecting navigation systems of all kinds. A model of the field should have been good until its scheduled update in 2020, however, it has moved so quickly that an update is required much sooner.
Emerging Tech

Scientists debate mysterious flash of light in space, known as ‘The Cow’

On June 16, 2018 there was an unusual flash in the sky which puzzled astronomers around the world. NASA researchers have been collecting data on the event and have shared two competing theories for what could have caused it.
Emerging Tech

Brightest quasar ever seen discovered by Hubble, may be star-producing machine

The brightest quasar even seen has been observed with the Hubble Space Telescope using a technique called strong gravitational lensing. The quasar is enormously energetic and may be producing thousands of stars per year.
Emerging Tech

Watch China’s moon mission touch down on the planet’s far side

Video has been shared of a lander's-eye view of China's Chang'e 4 mission touching down in the Von Kármán Crater on the far side of the moon. The craft captured footage of the descent with a camera which was attached to the probe.
Emerging Tech

SpaceX nails its first launch and landing of 2019, but job cuts loom

SpaceX has nailed its first launch and landing of 2019 with a mission that deployed more satellites for Virginia-based Iridium Communications. But the success was soured somewhat by reports of upcoming job losses at the company.
Emerging Tech

The best 3D printers for 2019

On the hunt for a new 3D printer? We've got your back. Whether you're a beginner or a seasoned veteran, this list of the best 3D printers has what you're looking for.
Emerging Tech

The enormous ‘Flying Bum’ moves toward a commercial design

A prototype of the world's largest aircraft is being retired as the company behind it prepares to build a production model. The new Airlander 10, also known as the "Flying Bum," could be ready for commercial use by 2025.
Emerging Tech

Face-scanning A.I. can help doctors spot unusual genetic disorders

Facial recognition can unlock your phone. Could it also be used to identify whether a person has a rare genetic disorder, based on their facial features? New research suggests it can.
Emerging Tech

Lasers and bovine breathalyzer help determine how much methane cows produce

Cow farts and belches don't sound like catastrophic threats, but they contribute to the massive amounts of methane in the atmosphere. Recently, scientists set out to establish the numbers.
Emerging Tech

Researchers discover a way to make 3D printing 100 times faster using light

Researchers at the University of Michigan have invented a new method of 3D printing which is up to 100 times faster than conventional 3D-printing processes. Here's how it works and why it could prove a game-changer for 3D printing.