Recently, we reported on a millimeter-scale computer that can be implanted in the eye to treat glaucoma. Now, there is more technology that can help patients suffering from macular degeneration. The Institute of Robotics and Intelligent Systems (IRIS) has developed a new tiny robot that can be steered through your eye.
And this new technology is likely to be available to the public soon.
Researchers at North Carolina State University have been able to make micro-bots do U-turns in a fluid on command, and another group has developed one that can clear blood clots in the the blood vessels of the eye. Michael Kummer at IRIS has brought the technology even further. Kummer is a specialist in robotics and thermodynamics in emerging technologies, and he researches precision control of microbots using magnetic fields.
The robots the Kummer has developed are injected into the eye with a needle and are electro-magnetically controlled. This eliminates the need for on-board fuel. The team hopes that these robots can treat macular degeneration by injecting a drug slowly over a period of months. Thus far, these robots have been tested only on pig’s eyes from cadavers. Live animal testing is planned soon. The applications for technology like this are virtually limitless, and could possibly someday be used throughout the body to deliver treatments and clear blood clots.