Robot eye cancer operation saves Bedford grandmother’s sight in world first

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

Wednesday, 2nd June 2021, 4:15 pm

A Bedford grandmother-of-seven who faced the prospect of losing an eye due to cancer has kept her vision thanks to innovative robotic surgery.

In a world first, surgeons at Moorfields Eye Hospital and Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust carried out the delicate procedure using a robot to successfully remove a tumour next to a Irene Milton's eye.

The 85-year-old had a recurrent basal cell carcinoma on the inner corner of her right eye and was previously told she would need to have her eye removed in order to treat the cancer.

Irene Milton

But the pioneering robotic technology meant surgeons could work with enhanced precision and successfully remove the tumour while preserving the nerves and function of her eye during the two-hour operation.

Irene, who has four children, 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.”

Jean-Pierre Jeannon - consultant head and neck surgeon and associate professor of surgery at Guy’s and St Thomas’ - operated on Irene with Asit Arora - robotic head and neck surgical lead at the trust.

Irene Milton's surgery in action

Mr Jeannon said: “We’re delighted for Irene that her surgery went so well. Her tumour is gone and she has kept her sight.

“It’s the first time in the world that the robot has been used in this way for orbital surgery, and we hope we can treat more patients in the same way. The success of this procedure is testament to the collaboration between our team 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.”