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

Speed is everything: Using 5G in the U.K. on the OnePlus 7 Pro 5G

You can buy a 5G phone and connect to a 5G network in the UK right now; but what's it like when you do? Armed with a OnePlus 7 Pro 5G and a 5G SIM on the EE network, we've been walking the streets of London to find out.
Movies & TV

The best shows on Netflix right now (June 2019)

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.
Home Theater

HDMI ARC and eARC: What they are, and how they can simplify your home theater

HDMI ARC is one of the coolest TV features at your disposal. But if you're like most folks, you have no idea how it works, if you even know what it is at all. Here's our primer on HDMI ARC, as well as the next-generation technology, eARC.
Emerging Tech

Custom 3D-printed heads let doctors practice delicate brain procedures

Radiotherapists who operate to remove brain tumors could benefit from being able to practice on specific patients ahead of time. Thanks to customized 3D-printed heads, now they can!
Emerging Tech

This drone with hands looks like a nightmare straight out of Black Mirror

This unlikely drone-with-hands creation is the work of Federico Ciccarese, the brains behind YouBionic, a bionic hand project that has evolved far beyond its original brief. Check it out.
Emerging Tech

This crazy-looking robot uses microspines on its legs to climb up walls

Researchers at Carnegie Mellon have built a bioinspired robot, which uses microspines on its feet to grip onto rough surfaces. This allows it to climb up very steep gradients. Check it out.
Emerging Tech

Got $400 million to burn? The world’s largest airplane is up for sale

Stratolaunch, the world's largest airplane, is up for sale. All it'll cost you is $400 million dollars. The brainchild of late Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, the plane was supposed to make space travel more accessible and affordable.
Digital Trends Live

Digital Trends Live: Florida’s autonomous vehicle law, E3 updates, and more

On this episode of DT Live, we take a look at the biggest trending stories in tech, including Florida allowing fully autonomous vehicles on the road, Atari’s new gaming system, E3 updates, high-speed rail, and more.
Emerging Tech

Ex astris, scientia: Star Trek logo spotted on the surface of Mars

The Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter has been boldly going to Mars and capturing images since 2005, and now it has spotted something where no man has gone before: a structure on the planet's surface which will look familiar to Trekkies.
Emerging Tech

Adobe develops tool to identify Photoshopped images of faces

With deepfake videos making headlines, and campaigns against the Photoshopping of models, people are more aware than ever of the digital manipulation of images. Now Adobe wants to give tools to users to let them spot faked images.
Emerging Tech

NASA’s Mars 2020 rover will pave the way for manned missions to Mars

Survival on Mars is a massive challenge for humanity. To cope with the highly variable temperatures, lack of oxygen and water, and high levels of radiation, the Mars 2020 rover will carry instruments to pave the way for human exploration.
Emerging Tech

Facebook builds virtual homes to train A.I. agents in realistic environments

Researchers at Facebook have created Habitat, which is a platform that enables rapid training for A.I. agents. They will receive thousands of hours of training in just a few minutes in the virtual homes.
Emerging Tech

Impossible Foods struggles to keep up with Impossible Burger demand

Red Robin and White Castle have reported Impossible Burger shortages, as it appears that Impossible Foods is struggling to keep up with demand. The company will be selling its meat-like patties in retail outlets within the year.
Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Plant-based shoes and a ukulele learning aid

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!