Who and where are the eye surgeons of the year 2040? At the age of 17, a biology teacher sparked my interest in the anatomy and functions of the human eye, which set me on a path of becoming the ophthalmic surgeon that I am today.
In was early 2022, in London, light appeared at the end of COVID-19 tunnel. My son’s secondary school was planning their first in-person Careers Fair since 2019 for Year 9 students. I jumped at the opportunity to volunteer, wanting to contribute and inspire.
What could capture the imagination of 13 and 14-year-old boys and girls in a few short minutes?
One of my career-defining experiences was at a Royal College of Ophthalmologists wet lab course. I decided to recreate a mini version in the school hall for students to experience eye surgery. Using model eyes from SimulEyes and Phillips Studio, I placed an intraocular lens in the anterior chamber for students to manipulate using micro-forceps under a high-resolution Zeiss microscope, with a Bluetooth connection to an iPad for me to demonstrate a set surgical task.
The level of interest from inquisitive teenagers was beyond what I could have imagined, exemplified by plenty of questions and students revisiting the station.
The day was summed up at bedtime at home, when my son shared some of the other students’ comments he had overheard in the corridors: “The eye surgery station was the coolest!”. I think it is fair to say that the Careers Fair was a resounding success, particularly for this dad’s cool factor.
My son’s school commented: “Our annual Careers Fair is an excellent opportunity for our students to broaden their horizons and gain an understanding of different industries. Our students often struggle to imagine jobs which they have no prior knowledge of. We were incredibly lucky to have an eye surgeon presenting to the students in such an interactive way. It brought this and other STEM careers to life in a way that kept the students talking for many days afterwards”
The station took weeks and generosity from many to put together, with surgical equipment donations and loans from the following companies (with special thanks to the named individuals): Altomed, (John Emson), BVI Medical (Cassie Creely), Zeiss Medical Technology (Anna Manta, Rob Lowe), DORC UK (Jonathan Sale) and Bausch & Lomb (Zoe Anderson). This was facilitated by OCL Vision’s Lead Theatre Nurse, Marta Ramos Blanco, and animations from Ali Mearza.
Vitreoretinal Surgeon, Head of the UK National ROP Retinal Detachment Service, Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children NHS Foundation Trust, London, UK; Moorfields Eye Hospital; Director and Partner at OCL Vision.