Sinead Grealy walked this years Eye to Eye to show her appreciation for the wonderful care she received here at Moorfields. Here she explains why she wants to give back:
I have an attention seeking right eyeball. As an extremely talented toddler I managed to crash a clay flower pot on my head, ripping open my right eyebrow and just missing my eyeball. When I was four years old, a lovely man lit a cigar and then accidentally stuck it into my right eye. My mam rushed me to Queen Mary's children's hospital where they had the equipment to check my eye but no qualified doctor to use it. Next St Heliers had the right doctor but not the equipment so mam had to head to the newly relocated St George's hospital! Thankfully there was no permanent damage.
A few years later my sister cycled her bicycle at me, having promised me she'd stop but instead I had the front fork of the wheel embedded above and below right eye. So I think it's fair to say I have a learned phobia of eyes. Over the next few decades I think you could guess which eyeball got the most dust, insects, eyelashes etc. Then in 2011 I began waking up at night with a sore, stuck eye. In the morning it would be sore but there were no visible signs of trauma so I ignored it.
Just before the 2012 Olympics the waking up at night had become at least once a week and I woke one morning with a ripped, red weeping eye. Corneal abrasions without trauma. After several trips to my local eye A&E to get lotions and potions (which was in process of being taken over by Moorfields staff), and my eyeball ripping over 50% of the nights, my GP told me in early 2013 to go up to Moorfields. Moorfields City Road staff were beyond excellent. The attention seeking right eyeball was diagnosed with recurrent corneal erosion syndrome (RCES). The doctors, nurses and admin staff in clinic 4 were beyond excellent. I was signed off in early 2014 with a much better cornea and only the odd ripping and potions required. That was until January 2017 when my retina ripped and detached whilst I was house sitting on Portland Island, just off Weymouth. I got to London as soon as possible but by the time arrived at Moorfields 80% of my sight was gone. However A&E were amazing and less than hour after arriving, I was put on the surgical list for that day and I was done and heading home by 5pm that same day! The retinal clinic and imaging teams were fabulous and my eyesight restored, miraculously as the macular was barely hanging on by a thread.
The downside was that I knew a cataract would be triggered by the retinal surgery, which appeared in October 2017 and was fully grown by that December. My reading sight was totally gone by end of 2017 and distance sight became distorted and failing. My night sight went early in 2018. To top it all off, my left eye started to develop a cataract too, so I had both removed early last summer. So the short story is Moorfields has saved my eyesight three times for the right eyeball and once for my left (non attention seeking) eyeball. All the staff are highly trained, professional, kind, informed, helpful, hard-working in very busy, rammed clinics and operation lists. They work long hours, with tough clients and always do more with less. They're highly skilled and patient and do more than a brilliant job. Moorfields is the envy of the world, superlative.
I spotted the Eye to Eye information while waiting in the cataract clinic last January. I thought even my unfit self could do four miles and I used Moorfields wifi to post information to see if some friends would join me. It’s a great website, and the pre event pack brilliant. On the day organisation was immense, and the map, route markers, volunteers drinks and snacks station awesome. The finish reception wonderful, cake selection lovely, drink choices great, music fab. A wonderful day.