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.