Rob’s Moorfields journey
7 December 2022
Rob was referred to Moorfields as a child and has had multiple eye operations throughout his life to preserve the residual vision in his right eye. He is blind in his left eye. Now retired, he has an active life with five grandchildren and voluntary roles at leading institutions.
Rob was born with Glaucoma (congenital glaucoma) otherwise known as buphthalmos.
What is glaucoma?
Glaucoma is an eye condition where damage to the optic nerve causes sight loss. It is usually caused by the pressure inside your eye rising too high.
Your eye is full of fluid, which helps it to keep its shape and function properly. If too much fluid builds up inside the eye, the pressure rises and squeezes the optic nerve at the back of the eye.
This can cause damage to your optic nerve - a bundle of over a million nerve fibres that carry signals between your eye and your brain.
Pressure might build up in the eye when:
- fluid is stopped from draining away
- extra fluid is produced after an eye injury or infection - this is called ‘secondary glaucoma’
- there is an abnormality in the shape of the eye in children - this is called ‘congenital glaucoma’
- Glaucoma tends to develop slowly over many years. As there is currently no cure for glaucoma, treatment focuses on early diagnosis, careful monitoring and regular treatment to help prevent further sight loss.
9 in 10
diagnosed with glaucoma today who get the treatment they need will retain useful sight for the rest of their lives
It is not currently possible to repair the optic nerve once it has been damaged, so any vision lost to glaucoma cannot be recovered. If left untreated, glaucoma can lead to blindness.
There are usually no symptoms of a rising pressure in the eye until sight loss occurs, so regular eye tests are the best way to help spot the condition early.
This affected both of Rob’s eyes and he was operated on in Bath Eye Infirmary at the age of six months. It was just a couple of months before the launch of the NHS in July, 1948.
The first operation was not successful and the left eye was totally blind. But the right eye operation was successful giving him a very low level of residual vision in his right eye.
Care at Moorfields
During his childhood he was transferred to the care of Moorfields Eye Hospital and leading world experts in congenital glaucoma whom he still sees today.
During the early 1990s, Rob sustained a retinal detachment and developed a cataract in his seeing eye, the cornea had also become ulcerated.
As a child and young man I had very usable sight, but in late twenties developed severe pain in the seeing eye. Surgery restored a usable but very limited level of vision.
In a long operation, Rob’s retina was repaired and the cataract removed, and he had a corneal graft. He had two further small operations to repair the retina which had detached again.
The retina has remained in place giving him a very low level of residual sight. It is supported by silicone fluid and monitored. Due to Rob’s underlying glaucoma, he has had a further corneal graft and is likely to need further surgical interventions in the future.
As anyone will appreciate, any vision is very useful, and in my case, minimal guiding sight is very helpful. My level of sight is just a little more than light perception. It is crucial.
Around 70-80% of blind people of working age are unemployed. The outstanding care Rob has received from Moorfields has enabled him to live a very active life at work and home.
Rob’s career and prestigious roles
Rob is a chartered physiotherapist and worked in the NHS for 40 years, including in senior management and leadership roles.
He is a former chair of the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy, and the first physiotherapist to represent his profession on the regulator for the Allied Health and Care Professions. He has also served on Department of Health working groups.
Rob is author of more than 30 published papers, articles and seven books.
He studied as an external student gaining a Doctorate at Kent University Business School, a Master of Philosophy in social policy and a BA in humanities with the Open University.
This small level of sight has greatly supported me in key roles nationally and internationally, also at home and in many other spheres of my life. I’m very thankful to Moorfields.
Following retirement from the NHS, he started his own company with a business partner giving masterclasses and short courses around the world including in New Zealand, Australia, Singapore and many European countries as well as the UK.
Active in retirement
Since he retired, Rob has been a Moorfields’ patient governor for nearly 20 years serving 10 years as vice-chair and is now lead governor. He has been a trustee of Moorfields Eye Charity since 2017.
As a trustee of Moorfields Eye Charity, he is a member of the grants committee and the charity’s safeguarding trustee.
The support of Moorfields has made a great difference in enabling me to do all these and many other things.
Helping shape Oriel
Rob has been vice-chair of the Oriel patient advisory group for three years. He wants to ensure that the new eye centre is fully accessible and has the best possible facilities for patients and carers, staff, researchers and educators.
He also believes it will be a positive facility within the local community, an important part of the London scientific and knowledge community as well as a great national ophthalmic centre and truly world leading.
Life is busy
Rob took part in the charity’s first Eye to Eye in 2015, our annual fundraising walk with his wife as his guide, and has taken part almost every year since.
He has five grandchildren and a labrador called Vesper.
Life is always hectic and good fun.
Rob is also a keen season ticket holder at Bath Rugby and enjoys Latin American and ballroom dancing lessons.