Tiny Oxygen-Sensing Robots Could Save Your Eyesight

We heard about robots helping humans and assisting them in doing various complex tasks.Scientific advances made robots our personal digital assistants too.Researchers developed robots which are useful in various fields like science,technology,military and rescue operations,medical,architecture etc,.

Now,scientists have invented tiny robot that could provide the necessary information to the doctors and save your eyesight.Led by Prof. Bradley Nelson, researchers at ETH Zurich created this “micro-robot” which is small and sensitive enough to alert or act as an warning system regarding the eye’s oxygen levels i.e.,the amount of oxygen level present in the retina of the eye.

microrobot_mainThere are many factors which influence our vision and impact our eye-sight.Blindness is a condition of lacking visual perception due to physiological or neurological factors.Like other parts of the human body,the retina in the eye also requires oxygen in order to sustain.If the required amount of oxygen is not received by it,the blood supply is restricted to it which leads to permanent blindness.

It is clear that when the supply of blood and oxygen to eyes falls short,there is a good chance of going blind within hours.Until now,there is no proper method to detect how much oxygen is getting into your eyes.It can be understood that the sooner the doctors know about the retina’s oxygen levels,the better the chances for taking an action.

For this purpose,the scientists created tiny injectable robots which measure about millimeter in length and one third of a millimeter in width.These can be guided through the vitreous fluid within the eye with the help of externally-applied magnetic fields.

Bradley Nelson, ETH professor and head of the Institute for Robotics and Intelligent Systems says  “I picture it like the robots that we use these days to chart the ocean floor. With our micro-robot we can chart the oxygen levels of the inner eye liquid — the vitreous — along the retina.”

To turn the robots into oxygen sensing machines,the researchers have coated these micro-robots with nano-spheres made of a dye.These nano-spheres are made at Spain’s University of Granada.When exposed to a pulse of specific wavelength of light,the dye glows.It should be understood that the faster the glowing fades away,the higher the amount of oxygen in the dye’s surrounding areas.

To inject these tiny robots in the eye,they would be first injected into the vitreous or glassy fluid and is turned towards the surface of the retina in the eye.A pulse of light would be applied while the consequential radiation is observed with the help of microscope through the pupil.

If you are wondering about the removal of these injected micro-robots from the eye,the process is simple.A needle which is helped to inject robots is once again used and inserted,by which the injected robots would be magnetically attracted to it.

Though there are other methods to measure the oxygen levels within the eye,those methods are not sensitive enough to deal with the most sensitive part of human body i.e.,the eye claims the ETH researchers.

These micro-robots have already been successfully tested in water samples with changing oxygen levels.We can expect soon expect these micro-robots to help humans detecting their visual problems and saving them from turning blind permanently.

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