Please give an overview of your role within Optegra?
I am consultant ophthalmic surgeon and have been carrying out vision correction at Optegra for six years, since the Queen Anne Street flagship hospital opened. Prior to that I was Consultant at Moorfields Eye Hospital and worked there for 14 years.
What first attracted you to ophthalmology?
It was a personal experience when I was 10 years old and my great aunt lost her vision to cataract. I saw her go to hospital, have surgery and get her sight back. It was miraculous! And definitely made me want to go into eye surgery.
What brings you joy in your work?
Happy patients. Seeing patients who feel they have been held back all their lives by poor vision or by a high glasses prescription, and then operating to improve their quality of life. It is giving them freedom from that baggage, of them being constantly aware of bad eyesight.
What are the most common questions that laser eye surgery patients ask you?
What happens if I move during the op? It is perfectly normal for the eye to move during laser surgery and the lasers are designed track those movements so there is no impact on treatment. This tracking was a big step forward in laser and made a huge impact on improving outcomes.
Will you clamp my eye open? No. We use a very gentle spring-loaded device to help keep the eye open, but it is not physically clamped.
Thinking about laser eye surgery as a treatment for vision correction:
- What are the main motivators for surgery? There are so many reasons and the current main one is facemasks fogging up glasses. Other common ones are people getting married, not wanting contact lens problems on their big day. Sports is a massive reason – being able to enjoy sports without worry of contacts or glasses. And of course, holidays – wearing nice sunglasses that don’t need to be prescription, or enjoy going to the pool or beach without glasses. There is also now a whole new area of people in their 40s suddenly needed reading glasses and the latest laser, Presbyond, can treat that.
- How does laser eye surgery work? All forms of laser eye surgery work by changing the shape of the cornea, the front clear window of the eye. By changing the shape of that window, the focus of the eye is modified and perfected.
- How quick is recovery time? For the most common types of laser – LASIK and SMILE – it is just 24 hours for recovery of vision.
- How long does the treatment take? Total time spent in the laser treatment room is no more than 10 minutes, but actual time the laser takes to do its job is no more than one minute.
- How long do results last? For younger patients, aged under 40, their improved distance vision should last into their 60s; but from age 50 onwards almost everybody needs to wear reading glasses and this will not be avoided. Laser does not prevent this. The good news is, though, that thanks to a new type of surgery called Presbyond, the need for reading glasses can now been treated as well, even if you previously had laser eye surgery.
- What are the success rates for laser eye surgery? Our audit data suggests around 98% of our patients achieve 6/6 (20/20) or better after laser eye surgery
- Which age-group is laser eye surgery most suitable for? Most surgeons are perfectly happy operating on patients 21 or older, and up to their 50s. If patients are between 18-21 years and can show us their glasses prescription has been stable for several years, then they are likely to also be suitable for treatment.
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Proudest moment of your career?
Becoming a partner with Optegra; as surgeons we don’t just arrive, operate and leave. We have the opportunity to be very personally committed and invested in the hospital group. I am also an Ambassador for our Surrey hospital, a leadership role of which I am very proud.
How would you describe the ethos of Optegra?
It is very much medically focused – providing the highest possible quality of medical eyecare, with every decision being made in the patient’s best interest. Clinical outcomes and safety are placed ahead of any commercial decisions which is why I have worked here for so long.
Funniest moment in your career?
Receiving a marriage proposal from a patient, whilst operating on her eyes. It was definitely the sedation, not love at first sight!
Your top piece of advice around eye health and protecting vision?
Wearing sunglasses is extremely important as eyes are particularly sensitive to ultraviolet light. People are aware of the damage that high UV can cause with sunburn, but it is equally damaging to the eyes. No need to worry on a bright winter day – but on the days when you could get sunburnt, definitely wear sunglasses as well as sunscreen.
Hobbies outside your work?
I play guitar at home – mostly 70s rock.
I cook a really good chicken chow mien!
Your perfect holiday?
Southern Californian surfing. I used to go twice a year and the day the airports open I am on a plane!
Mr Alex Shortt – Consultant Ophthalmic Surgeon
By Author: Amir Hamid
Mr. Amir Hamid is a Clinical Lead for Vision Correction and an expert refractive surgeon, based in London.