Some big names in robotically assisted surgery are behind ForSight Robotics, which is developing a unified platform for ophthalmic surgery, a specialty that has lagged in the adoption of robotics. They aim to solve the global lack of surgeons needed to treat the major causes of preventable blindness, while making sure that all patients have access to consistently good outcomes no matter where in the world they are.
Almost three decades have elapsed since Intuitive Surgical was founded to offer the first robotically assisted surgical platform to help surgeons perform minimally invasive procedures where precision is necessary but difficult to achieve because of challenges around visibility and accessibility. Intuitive is now one of the medtech industry’s greatest success stories. In January 2023, Intuitive had a market cap of almost $91.5 billion. Its platform is used in 1.8 million procedures annually in 69 countries, yet its market—a long list of minimally invasive soft-tissue procedures—is only 7% penetrated, giving it plenty of room for growth.
Such an opportunity has not been lost on a crowded field of followers in surgical robotics. MedTech Strategist counts at least 27 start-ups developing robotically assisted surgical systems for minimally invasive applications across general surgery, ENT procedures, gynecology, gastroenterology, orthopedics, cancer, cardiovascular applications, and open microsurgeries. Ophthalmology, however, has heretofore been underrepresented, apart from two companies focusing on retinal surgery, Preceyes (now part of Carl Zeiss) and AcuSurgical (Montpellier, France).
If ophthalmic surgery has lagged, it’s perhaps because skilled surgeons haven’t previously seen the need, especially since the eye offers the opportunity for direct visualization and access. However, going forward, ophthalmology is facing a significant challenge that the founders of ForSight Robotics (Yokne’am Illit, Israel) believe they can solve with ORYOM, a robotically assisted surgical platform for the eye. ForSight’s goal is to help ophthalmologists meet a growing demand for procedures that prevent the leading causes of blindness at a time when the pool of such specialists is shrinking, and thus democratize access to high-quality care.