We interviewed Alex Shortt to find out about his training and experience.
Alex Shortt: A question I’m often asked is why I chose to become an eye surgeon. For me, it was quite a personal family experience. When I was seven years old, my great aunt developed severe cataracts. Over time, she lost all her vision. She then went on to have cataract surgery, and I went into the hospital with her and saw her after the procedure. The impact that the cataract surgery had on this family member was immense. She went from being blind and disabled to have a whole new lease on life again. For me, as a young child, it left a huge impression, and I decided then and there, that this was what I wanted to do for a living.
The next step along the journey was studying medicine at University College Dublin. I really enjoyed the physiology, pharmacology and scientific aspect of medicine. So, immediately after qualifying, I went back to university and did a Master’s degree in physiology.
I then started my clinical ophthalmology training in Dublin. I was lucky enough to be offered a position at Moorfields Eye Hospital in London to continue my training. I moved to Moorfields and after nine years of training – during which I also undertook a PhD in ophthalmology looking at stem cell technology to treat eye disease – I finished my training and became a consultant at Moorfields Eye Hospital. I worked there for four years.
During that time I specialised in very complex cases of severe damage to the surface of the eyes and using corneal transplants and stem cell transplants to try and rebuild the surface of very badly damaged eyes.
I also took an interest in lens implant technology and laser vision correction and using these advanced technologies to improve vision in patients who were extremely dependent on glasses and contact lenses.