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Welcome one and all to our festive Eye News Dec/Jan 2024. The arrow of time has flown through 2023, landing us at the year’s end, but not before Santa brings you this special delivery. Aside from the partying and generally making merry, it’s a good time to reflect on the year gone by.

Some of us have more cause for reflection than others, especially the chosen ones pinged about their MSF. I speak not of that brilliant and internationally renowned charity, Medicines Sans Frontier, but the slightly less globally important multisource feedback, the quinquennial gauntlet we all must face with fortitude and humility. The WASP email reminder landing in the inbox prompts much form-filling, nominating people at work, and like Strictly (Come Dancing), they allocate scores on performance. There’s nothing quite like a dose of MSF for taking a long look in the mirror of self-reflection. How should you rate yourself? How do you come across to other people? How might others rate us? Exposing our soft underbelly of ego for either a tickle or a slap, depending on how the scores pan out, has the potential to cause delight or despair. Then again, what do you do with the data once the verdict is in? How much use is whole exercise?

Well, enough of that for now – let’s grab a hot drink, put feet up and take a deep dive into our winter collection which provides a perfect multi-professional reflection courtesy of our many talented contributors. Sir Robin reflects on his personal journey with our very own Peter Cackett – a must-read. If only I had passed through Daniel and Peter’s boot-camp when I was a lad, definitely a must-attend; and continuing the theme of our hugely popular global series, articles on ophthalmology in Africa are must-see. There is essential reading on integrated care for lid malignancy, paediatric genetics, how to stem the vitreous flow. Rod is hot on the heels of AMD trends, and we salute the IMGs, fully a third of the NHS workforce for their sterling service. We have insightful tips for medical students and FYs alongside articles on art, tech and Empatheyes – surely that name deserves a prize.

For fans of Marvin Gaye, I heard through the grapevine there’s a phenotype not be forgotten, as told by Mary and Jerald, and Pete’s Bogus Journey takes a poignant look at his year, a personal, bittersweet reflection with which we can all identify.

Looking back to the early days of MSF and the introduction of revalidation, I recall the process which back then was viewed with a touch of trepidation. At that time, I was a clinical director and tasked with convincing colleagues that it was, on the whole, a good thing, even though anticipated MSF angst had prompted the offer of psychological support for those traumatised by the self-reflection exercise. It brought to mind Oscar Wilde’s eponymous character Dorian Gray.

We have all come across people at work euphemistically referred to as ‘quirky characters’ who apparently ‘don’t suffer fools lightly’. Personalities like that could do with a bit of honest feedback, even if it triggers a meltdown rather than behavioural change. No doubt MSF and how it is harnessed might benefit from improvement, and we could do with a better evidence base for efficacy. That said, taking time to gather and use feedback constructively must be worthwhile. After all, it might be the only way I find out I am one of those quirky characters. As Robbie Burns said in 1786 in To a Louse… 

“O wad some Pow’r the giftie gie us
To see oursels as ithers see us!”

and for non-Scots readers South of the border:

“O would some Power the gift to give us
To see ourselves as others see us!”

Before signing off, and on behalf of all at Eye News, I’d like to thank all our contributors for allowing us to publish your brilliant, high-quality content over the past 12 months, without which your editors would have had to bore you with even more space-filling ruminations and opinionated content of our own. To every one of our readers, thank you for your invaluable feedback and support over the year – we applaud your discerning taste and erudition in choosing to wade through our very last 2023 bimonthly offering.

Trusting you all shall have a fantastic festive break and Hogmanay. See you in 2024.

– BD





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Baljean Dhillon (Prof)

BMed Sci(Hons), BM BS(Nottingham), FRCPS (Glasg), FRCS(Ed) FRCOphth, FRCPE. Professor of Clinical Ophthalmology, University of Edinburgh and Hon. Consultant Princess Alexandra Eye Pavillion, NHS Lothian, Edinburgh, UK.

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