Some eye diseases have a nasty habit of being all but untreatable by the time the patient is aware of the symptoms; a dirty trick on the part of the designer. Age-related macular degeneration is one, but AMD spends a long time brewing in the tissues of the retina before making itself known as actual vision loss. Now it turns out that it might be detectable during that gestation period, through a simple test of how a patient’s eyesight adjusts to darkness. I wrote about that test for

Also in the eyesight department: retinitis pigmentosa is being tackled through electronic implants of two different types, the epiretinal and subretinal varieties. Each sits in a slightly different position in the retina and does its job in slightly different ways; neither is guaranteed to succeed nor to be hassle-free for the patient. Intriguingly, the two approaches ultimately stem from a fairly fundamental difference of opinion about what AMD does to the retina.

Robotic surgical systems are becoming more advanced all the time; the top-of-the-line ones already have a distinct air of science-fiction production design about them. The overlap with the equally rapid advances in biomedical imaging techniques seems obvious, but the synergies are not materializing as fast as you might think. I spoke to Intuitive Surgical to find out why, and what benefits will follow once the two camps get in sync.

And: a report from a conference on biophotonics held at University College, London. Among other things discussed, a potential use of optogenetics for turning epilepsy off in the brain as soon as it starts to manifest itself.