Looking back, I was always going to have a medical career – in fact, every male in my family has gone on to become a doctor of some type. My father, three uncles and both my grandfathers were doctors, and my father and uncle were ophthalmologists.
I initially thought I was going to become a neurologist, however I really wanted to do something with my hands. Ophthalmology provides more opportunities to use your hands than neurology. I also believe that a cornea is a very pleasant thing to look at down the microscope.
My initial specialty was in corneal transplantation. I began with a Fellowship in corneal transplantation, and became the very first Corneal Fellow at the Sydney Eye Hospital.
In the mid 1980s, I was keenly watching what was happening lasers for vision correction. These lasers were initially being experimented with by the US Military, who were looking into the possibility of making buildings ‘disappear’. Believe it or not, it would have worked but the laser equipment would have needed to be enormous – physically too large to use in combat, and so these particular experiments were abandoned.
Cardiologists first tried to take up the laser technology. They attempted to use lasers to unblock arteries, but those experiments proved to be unsuccessful. Next, the ophthalmic industry took over the technology. It took a few years, but they eventually made lasers viable for eye surgery.
When I brought the first excimer laser to Australia for vision correction, I was contacted by Dr Michael Lawless, who had also been keeping an eye on this laser technology. He had worked in the US and was on top of all developments. When he discovered that I was bringing a laser to the country he contacted me, and we began working together. Our professional partnership continues today.