Br J Ophthalmol 89:1586-1588 doi:10.1136/bjo.2005.075853
  • Clinical science
    • Scientific reports

Development of Microelectromechanical Systems (MEMS) forceps for intraocular surgery

  1. R B Bhisitkul1,
  2. C G Keller2
  1. 1Beckman Vision Center, Department of Ophthalmology, University of California San Francisco, San Francisco, CA, USA
  2. 2MEMS Precision Instruments, Richmond, CA, USA
  1. Correspondence to: Robert B Bhisitkul MD, PhD, Beckman Vision Center, Department of Ophthalmology, University of California San Francisco, 10 Koret Way, K301, San Francisco, CA 94143, USA;
  • Accepted 1 August 2005


Aim: To develop silicon microforceps for intraocular surgery using Microelectromechanical Systems (MEMS) technology, the application of microchip fabrication techniques for the production of controllable three dimensional devices on the micrometre scale.

Methods: Prototype MEMS forceps were designed and manufactured for intraocular surgery. Scanning electron microscopy was used to evaluate device tip construction. Designs using both thermal expansion actuators and conventional mechanical activation were tested in human cadaver eyes and in vivo rabbit eyes to assess functionality in standard vitreoretinal surgery.

Results: MEMS forceps were constructed with various tip designs ranging from 100 μm to 2 mm in length. Scanning electron microscopy confirmed accurate construction of micro features such as forceps teeth as small as tens of micrometres. In surgical testing, the silicon forceps tips were effective in surgical manoeuvres, including grasping retinal membranes and excising tissue. The mechanical actuator design on a 20 gauge handle was more operational in the intraocular environment than the thermal expansion actuator design. While handheld operation was possible, the precision of the forceps was best exploited when mounted on a three axis micromanipulator.

Conclusion: MEMS microforceps are feasible for conventional vitreoretinal surgery, and offer advances in terms of small scale, operating precision, and construction tolerance.


  • Financial disclosure: CGK is founder of MEMS Precision Instruments; RBB has no financial interest.