Artificial intelligence, robotics and eye surgery: Are we overfitted?

Müller G. Urias, Niravkumar Patel, Changyan He, Ali Ebrahimi, Ji Woong Kim, Iulian Iordachita, Peter L. Gehlbach

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Eye surgery, specifically retinal micro-surgery involves sensory and motor skill that approaches human boundaries and physiological limits for steadiness, accuracy, and the ability to detect the small forces involved. Despite assumptions as to the benefit of robots in surgery and also despite great development effort, numerous challenges to the full development and adoption of robotic assistance in surgical ophthalmology, remain. Historically, the first in-human-robot-Assisted retinal surgery occurred nearly 30 years after the first experimental papers on the subject. Similarly, artificial intelligence emerged decades ago and it is only now being more fully realized in ophthalmology. The delay between conception and application has in part been due to the necessary technological advances required to implement new processing strategies. Chief among these has been the better matched processing power of specialty graphics processing units for machine learning. Transcending the classic concept of robots performing repetitive tasks, artificial intelligence and machine learning are related concepts that has proven their abilities to design concepts and solve problems. The implication of such abilities being that future machines may further intrude on the domain of heretofore "human-reserved" tasks. Although the potential of artificial intelligence/machine learning is profound, present marketing promises and hype exceeds its stage of development, analogous to the seventieth century mathematical "boom" with algebra. Nevertheless robotic systems augmented by machine learning may eventually improve robot-Assisted retinal surgery and could potentially transform the discipline. This commentary analyzes advances in retinal robotic surgery, its current drawbacks and limitations, and the potential role of artificial intelligence in robotic retinal surgery.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number52
JournalInternational Journal of Retina and Vitreous
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 16 2019


  • Artificial intelligence
  • Ophthalmology
  • Retina
  • Robotic surgical procedures
  • Robotics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ophthalmology


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