Moorfields surgeons help deliver world-first robot eye cancer op, saving a patient’s sight

For the first time in the world, surgeons at Moorfields Eye Hospital and Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust have delivered a delicate procedure using a robot to successfully remove a tumour next to a patient’s eye.

Irene Milton, 85 and a grandmother-of-seven, had a recurrent basal cell carcinoma on the inner corner of her right eye and was previously told she would have to have her eye removed in order to treat her cancer. Thanks to this surgery, the patient who faced the prospect of losing an eye due to cancer has kept her vision and won’t need radiotherapy.

This type of cancer grows slowly and damages the skin and soft tissues. Most are small and not serious, but tumours on the eye are rare.

The da Vinci robot system used in this procedure enables surgeons to perform precise procedures in a minimally invasive way, so patients can recover quicker. For Irene, it meant surgeons could work in the delicate eye area with enhanced precision and a magnified view to successfully remove her tumour while preserving the nerves and function of her eye.

Irene said: “I am so pleased at the outcome – I haven’t lost my eye and they got the cancer out. It’s such a relief, I’m over the moon.

“It’s nice to know that you’re never too old to have anything done, especially pioneering surgery.”

The success of this procedure is testament to the collaboration between Guy’s and St Thomas’ and our colleagues at Moorfields.

Claire Daniel, consultant oculoplastic surgeon and lid oncology lead at Moorfields Eye Hospital, said: “Irene has done really well after her surgery and it’s very exciting to be able to provide such a great service for our patients affected by cancer. This is truly a world-leading advance in orbital surgery, which we will build on in the future.

“We have developed a highly specialised periocular cancer unit thanks to our excellent collaboration with Guy’s and St Thomas’, enabling us to share our expertise in treating these very difficult cases.”

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