Friday 20 April 2018

Hurler first to have 'revolutionary' eye operation

Cork hurler Conor Lehane in action last year
Cork hurler Conor Lehane in action last year

Greg Harkin

A senior county hurler has the vision of a "fighter pilot" after becoming the first person in Ireland to undergo revolutionary new eye surgery.

Cork forward Conor Lehane was previously short-sighted, but said he was so taken aback by the results of the operation he is still "amazed" every time he gets up in the morning.

The 22-year-old was treated by one of the world's leading eye surgeons, Professor Johnny Moore. Prof Moore used a newly-developed, non-invasive "no-touch" Schwind laser to treat the UCC criminology student, making the results 100pc accurate and reducing the recovery time to just a few days.

"I had the treatment on a Wednesday and within a couple of days I was blown away by the difference," said the hurler, whose county side takes on Waterford this Sunday in their opening clash of the Munster Championship. "It has changed my life on and off the pitch."

The hurler said he struggled through the cut and thrust of inter-county and club games with contact lenses.

"I only wore lenses during games. All other times I wore glasses, but I've binned the lot now," said the Midleton club man. "I couldn't rely on lenses during matches either. They were either falling out or getting covered in sweat or grit.

"The worst of it all was training or playing under floodlights, because you were constantly getting a glare effect."

The student said he hoped his neighbours didn't think he was "bonkers" over the past few weeks. "I would get up in the morning and stare out the window, amazed that my short-sightedness had gone," he said. "It's also changed my life at home, generally. I'd take my glasses off all the time for reading and then put them back on to watch TV, but I lost count of the number of times I lost my glasses on the sofa."

Professor Moore - whose Cathedral Eye Clinic is based at the University of Ulster in Belfast - said the new "no-touch" laser technology was helping to revolutionise how patients were treated. He said Conor now has "fighter pilot" vision following the surgery.

"Conor's difficulties revolved around playing when wearing contact lenses. Problems could include handling, dirt, rain, sweat and sand getting in eyes and glare from lights, as well as lenses falling out during play at key moments," said Prof Moore.

"When our vision is distorted, it can affect every waking moment at work or play and can put you at risk of losing a game or, even worse, serious injury.

"I'm delighted with Conor's results and the quick recovery. If he misses a score now, it won't be down to his eyesight!"

Irish Independent

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