This paper describes the development and initial testing of a new and optimized version of a steady-hand manipulator for retinal microsurgery. In the steady-hand paradigm, the surgeon and the robot share control of a tool attached to the robot through a force sensor. The robot controller senses forces exerted by the operator on the tool and uses this information in various control modes to provide smooth, tremor-free, precise positional control and force scaling. The steady-hand manipulator reported here has been specifically designed with the unique constraints of retinal microsurgery in mind. In particular, the system makes use of a compact wrist design that places the bulk of the robot away from the operating field. The resulting system has high efficacy, flexibility and ergonomics while meeting the accuracy and safety requirements of microsurgery. We have now tested this robot on a biological model system and we report a protocol for reliably cannulating ∼80 μm OD veins (the size of veins in the human retina) using the system.