Leeds & West Yorkshire

Leeds firefighter's eyesight saved in lens operation

Lynsey Philpott
Image caption Lynsey Philpott has been able to resume full duties at the fire station in Rawdon

A firefighter who feared losing her job when she developed cataracts has told of her joy after surgeons used cutting-edge technology to save her sight.

Doctors said Lynsey Philpott, 28, who is stationed at Rawdon in Leeds, was the first person to have hi-tech lenses implanted on the NHS.

St James' Hospital in Leeds agreed to use top-of-the-range lenses to give her the perfect vision required in her job.

Ms Philpott, who had the operation last month, resumed full duties on Monday.

She said: "I'm really thrilled about it. I can do all the things that I had started to struggle with, the map reading and computer screens, I can do them all perfectly.

"My driving, especially at night, has improved."

The mother-of-one from Otley, West Yorkshire, said it was while driving a fire engine at night that she first noticed her eyesight was deteriorating.

"I was worried because it started affecting me at night when I was driving and the lights on cars started to startle me as if the drivers had main beams on," she said.

"The opticians were shocked to see I had cataracts because I was so young.

"It was frightening because when I did my own research on the internet on what operations were available they were all for elderly people and they all still had to wear glasses."

'Crystal clear'

James Ball, a consultant ophthalmic surgeon at St James's Hospital, said: "It is incredibly unusual for us to be doing cataract surgery on somebody in their 20s.

"We think Lynsey probably had these cataracts from birth in a very mild form.

"Then there was a sudden onset of blurred vision over a matter of months in her late 20s.

"With standard cataract surgery we would be leaving her in bifocal glasses and she would not be able to do her job."

Instead, Mr Ball decided to implant the latest premium multifocal intraocular lenses which allow perfect vision, even in environments like smoky rooms, and are usually only available to private patients.

"Because of her job as a firefighter she needed crystal clear vision for all ranges of distance," he said.

"It was so important we were able to use the latest lens implant technology."

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