Optometrist Sharon Can’t Stop Looking After Pioneering ReLEx Treatment

In her free time, Sharon Ritchie, the most recent optometrist to join the London Vision Clinic, is a self-confessed “eye geek” and was determined to have a career in eye health since the age of 10. “I am just fascinated by eyes and how they work. I think I sometimes drive my friends crazy because I get so excited talking about eyes and my job.”

In her spare time, Sharon enjoys watching live football matches but she soon discovered that her sight was poor when her eyes were tired at week night matches. Although able to recognise the Arsenal players (the team she supports), she found it frustrating not to be able to make out the names of their opponents.

Life Before Laser Eye Surgery

Having suffered with poor eye sight since the age of eight, Sharon only started to have problems with her contact lenses when she moved to London from her native Aberdeen two years ago.

“I wore contact lenses all the time – without them, basically – I could see nothing. They never really bothered me back in Scotland, but in London – possibly due to the dirtier environment – I began to have problems. My eyes felt irritated and scratchy and, at the end of a busy day, my vision would deteriorate. At football matches I would be peering at the pitch but not really able to see what was going on.”

Sharon’s Laser Eye Surgery Process

Although Sharon’s prescription had been stable for the last four years, she had other problems in her left eye – high pressure and a thin cornea – which ruled out the possibility of LASIK correction for that eye. However, after undergoing various additional tests which showed that the pressure was not causing any damage to the eye, it was agreed that Sharon would be suitable for the pioneering ReLEx (Refractive Lenticule Extraction) procedure; while the short sightedness in her right eye could be corrected by LASIK.

In the UK, this procedure is currently available exclusively at the London Vision Clinic. As a less invasive way of treating short-sightedness, ReLEx opens up the possibility of Laser Eye Surgery for people who weren’t previously candidates due to corneal thickness and strength issues, as well as those with extremely high prescriptions or those suffering from extremely dry eyes.

“The results are fantastic”, said Sharon who returned to work the day after her operation.

Two weeks post treatment, Sharon admitted that the full implications of being able to see clearly had not fully sunk in.

“Every morning of my life, the first thing I did on waking up was to tie my hair back and then put on my glasses so that I could see my way to the bathroom. Now I find myself sitting on the bed with my hair in a ponytail and wondering if there’s something else I need to do!”

“I can’t stop looking at things. For 10 years I have heard patients talking about the thrill of seeing clearly the detail of leaves on a tree. I hadn’t fully realised what they were talking about until now. I find myself staring at trees and loving seeing every single leaf in sharp, perfect focus – it must have been a bit of a green blur before.”

“Now it will be a pleasure to be able to speak to patients from a first-hand perspective about the procedure. I realise that it will mean a lot to them to know that I have been through it too.”

Meanwhile, away from the London Vision Clinic, Sharon is counting down to the start of the new football season. She can’t wait to return to the Emirates Stadium to be able to clearly see the Gunners in action and be able to identify who they are tackling.