One of the significant challenges of moving from manual to robot-assisted retinal surgery is the loss of perception of forces applied to the sclera (sclera forces) by the surgical tools. This damping of force feedback is primarily due to the stiffness and inertia of the robot. The diminished perception of tool-to-eye interactions might put the eye tissue at high risk of injury due to excessive sclera forces or extreme insertion of the tool into the eye. In the present study therefore a 1-dimensional adaptive control method is customized for 3-dimensional control of sclera force components and tool insertion depth and then implemented on the velocity-controlled Johns Hopkins Steady-Hand Eye Robot. The control method enables the robot to perform autonomous motions to make the sclera force and/or insertion depth of the tool tip to follow pre-defined desired and safe trajectories when they exceed safe bounds. A robotic light pipe holding application in retinal surgery is also investigated using the adaptive control method. The implementation results indicate that the adaptive control is able to achieve the imposed safety margins and prevent sclera forces and insertion depth from exceeding safe boundaries.