Previously Blind Bob Sleigh Hero Wins Gold

Truly it must be amazing to look back on one’s career and realise that among its many highlights, you have contributed to your country’s gold medal collection – and without even being a world class athlete.

Add into the equation restoring the sight of a champion Olympian who goes on to win the first four-man gold medal for his country in 62 years and you have the making of a national hero.

This status has been granted to Dr. Brian Boxer Wachler of the Boxer Wachler Vision Institute in Los Angeles after he restored the sight of US bobsleigh driver Steve Holcomb who, together with his team, won a gold medal at this year’s Vancouver Winter Olympics – the first for the U.S. in this sport since 1948.

Dr. Brian is also something of an anglophile having studied at and rowed for Edinburgh University. In addition he is also a friend of the London Vision Clinic; having met Dr. Dan at various international laser eye congresses, he visited the London Vision Clinic during a recent stay in the UK and expects to return here when he and friends re enact Jerome K Jerome’s “Three Men in a Boat” on the Thames this summer.

But from leisurely summer picnics and pub lunches (Dr. Brian makes it clear that although enjoying the atmosphere, he doesn’t drink) to the snowy slopes of Vancouver in February where all eyes were on the U.S. bobsleigh team and its driver who in June 2007 had been forced to retire from his beloved sport after being declared legally blind. Before his retirement, Steve Holcomb was widely regarded as the best bobsleigh driver in America.

Due to a degenerative eye disease called keratoconus, Steve was unable to read the large “E” at the top of an eye test chart when he was introduced to celebrated eye surgeon Dr. Brian Boxer Wachler. It was no longer possible to increase the strength of his contact lenses and at its worst his vision was 20-1000 – defined as “profound visual impairment”.

His only help appeared to be undergoing risky, painful and invasive cornea transplant surgery.