I grew up in an academic family – my father is the Dean at the University of Wollongong – however, medicine is not a family trait. Medicine appealed to me, and as I was fascinated with the workings of the brain, I initially planned to become a neurologist. However, after a year, the fact that it was an area that often had– shall I say – pre-determined outcomes, the person in charge realised that I was ‘results oriented’. He suggested ophthalmology, and I immediately knew it was right for me. I spent 16 years training, including completing a sub specialty in corneal and refractive surgery. However, you never stop learning, and I continue to keep a keen eye on new technology, new procedures and new studies. I am also fortunate enough to be asked to be involved in worldwide trials.
I believe in order to stay on top of your field, you need to be continually involved in clinical research. It also allows me to be in a position where I can assess new treatments critically and base my surgical choices on evidence-based medicine.
I’m also leading a basic science research team investigating a new finding in keratoconus, looking at avenues to develop new treatments modalities to prevent keratoconus progression. In fact, I have just released a book on my findings, ‘A Users Manual for People with Keratoconus’. Any royalties will be donated directly to the Sydney Eye Hospital Foundation; Keratoconus Research Fund.
However, it’s the day-to-day work that gets me out of bed – I realize how fortunate I am that I genuinely love what I do. Being an ophthalmic surgeon is an honour and a privilege. When I perform laser eye surgery, the exhilaration that my patients exhibit once they realize they can now see clearly at the legal driving level without glasses, often the very next day, is ultimately satisfying. Then, there are the anxious patients with keratoconus, some who require corneal transplant. It’s only natural that they are worried, however a successful outcome can literally change their day-to-day lives.