I see and treat a wide mix of patients, ranging from older people with conditions such as macular degeneration, cataracts, epiretinal membranes and retinal vein occlusions to younger people of working age with conditions such as diabetes, floaters and retinal detachments. I also see many patients with eye trauma due to sports or work related injuries. A significant proportion of my work involves seeing people for second opinions regarding complex eye conditions and performing surgery to treat complications of other eye surgery. My patients include numerous doctors, nurses, optometrists, and their closest relatives as well as many of my own staff members.
I am constantly inspired by the patients I meet and their stories. One of my most memorable patients is a remarkable 91 year old American gentleman with a lifelong passion for the opera. He regularly travels the world to enjoy the best performances. He was diagnosed with wet macular degeneration affecting both eyes and needs to have regular injections of sight saving drugs into his eyes every 4 weeks.
After receiving a diagnosis like this, most people would give up travelling the world to watch the opera, due to the restriction of having to see a retinal specialist every month for treatment. But this man has such a zest for life and indomitable spirit that he will not let his disease interfere with his passion. He has established a network of retina specialists in different cities around the world (including Sydney, Auckland and San Francisco, amongst others) who are able to treat him whenever he visits to attend the opera. I admire his positive attitude and determination to live life to the full.
I was on-call at a public hospital on Xmas Eve, when a middle aged man presented to me with a retinal detachment in his left eye, so I admitted him to hospital and scheduled him for surgery later that day. Retinal detachment is a relatively uncommon, potentially blinding eye condition.
Within a few hours, another middle aged man presented to me at the hospital, also with a retinal detachment in the left eye. I noticed coincidentally that both patients had the same surname.
I had a busy night operating on both patients but both operations were successful. The next day, the two men met each other on my post-operative ward round and it turned out that they were long-lost brothers who lived in different towns and had not seen each other for over 15 years afters falling out over a personal dispute.
Apart from the amazing coincidence of two long lost brothers presenting on the same day, at the same hospital, to the same surgeon, with the same condition, affecting the same eye, this highlighted for me the incredibly powerful role that genetics can play in eye disease.
To read more about my passions, please click here.