Oculotronics secures pre-Series A funding on back of subretinal surgery robot

The product has passed the type inspection required of medical equipment within China, and was successfully applied in live animal tests on rabbit and monkey, pending registered clinical trial.

Oculotronics (微眸医疗), an ophthalmic surgical robot maker, has closed a pre-Series A funding round for tens of millions of yuan, Chinese media outlet PEDaily reported today.

Proceeds from this round will be used to conduct clinical trial and advance commercialization of its core product, a surgical robot designed to perform procedures with a micrometer-level accuracy.

Founded in December 2020 in Guangzhou, capital of southern China’s Guangdong Province, Oculotronics is dedicated to developing medical equipment for the treatment of subretinal disorders.

“Ophthalmic surgical robots can empower and augment human capabilities, and solve patients’ problems with the help of microscopic system,” said Professor Pi Yansong, co-founder and CEO of the startup. “This satisfies the imagination of surgeons about ophthalmic surgeries.”

Surgery on human retina is one of the most difficult to perform in ophthalmology, with only experienced doctors in bigger urban hospitals cut out for the job.

By contrast, it takes eight to 10 years to train an ophthalmic surgeon capable of performing procedures on retina, making the access to treatment severely imbalanced between the haves and have-nots.

Heightened operational risks

Besides, human hands naturally shake, causing heightened operational risks for doctors. An error could result in damage to eyesight, or worse, permanent loss of vision.

A coupling robotic mechanism developed by Oculotronics is said to offer five degrees of freedom and possess an accuracy down to micrometer.

This design, which features a position repeatability of 10 μm, insulates the risks from natural trembling of the human hand, as it causes minimal invasion in the eyeball.

Besides, the company said a remote center of motion mechanism also realizes high-precision control and tactile feedback.

Combined with force feedback algorithms, its subretinal surgical robot can ensure safety during procedures, said the startup.

The product has passed the type inspection required of medical equipment within China, and was successfully applied in live animal tests on rabbit and monkey, pending registered clinical trial.

Once it receives a license, the device will be supplied to hospitals across China to perform difficult, complex and risky procedures like subretinal injection, cornea transplant and cataract surgery.

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Ni Tao

Ni Tao is the founder and editor-in-chief of cnrobopedia. Prior to cnrobopedia, he had a full decade of experience with a major state-run English-language newspaper as a tech reporter and opinion writer. He is also a communications specialist, having provided consultancy services to established firms like Siemens, Philips, ABinBev, Diageo, Trip.com Group (Nasdaq: TCOM, HK: 9961), Jianpu Technology (NYSE: JT) and a handful of domestic startups. A graduate of Fudan University, he writes widely about China's business and tech scenes and other topics for global publications including South China Morning Post, SupChina, The Diplomat, CGTN, Banking Technology, among others, and tries to impart his experience to students at Fudan University Journalism School, where he is a part-time lecturer. When he's not writing about robotics, you can expect him to be on his beloved Yanagisawa saxophones, trying to play some jazz riffs, often in vain and occasionally against the protests of an angry neighbor. Get in touch with him by dropping a line at nitao0927@gmail.com.

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