Thanks To Sheila, A Patient, Jill Has Travelled From Southern Spain To London To Treat Her Presbyopia

For the majority of London Vision Clinic patients, the waiting time before their surgery, although exciting, can also be an anxious period. However, when Jill Shardlow had her operation two years ago there was no opportunity for her to feel nervous… when the big moment arrived, it was all rather unexpected.

Jill, a former BBC executive who headed up the corporation’s design department before taking early retirement and moving to Spain full time thirteen years ago, had had poor eye sight since childhood.

“I had worn glasses since the age of six and it never really bothered me until a few years ago”, she explained.

The inconvenience began as degrees of presbyopia (ageing eyes) were added to her prescription mix.

“I found I couldn’t get on with vari-lenses – somehow the reading part of the glasses was always in the wrong place for me and I had to move my head and crane my neck to see through them properly.

Jill had worn glasses since childhood

“I was also becoming less confident about night driving.”

Jill lives a few miles inland from the crowded costas of southern Spain with her husband Martin – a former television director of the Black Adder series amongst others -two much-loved handsome cats and her beautiful grey mare, Señora.

She first learned about the London Vision Clinic from a friend, who lives in Spain for most of the year.

“My great friend Sheila encouraged me to have it done. She had been treated by Professor Reinstein and was delighted with the results. She literally cajoled me into going – I don’t think I would have been brave enough without her encouragement.”

Having booked her first appointment, Jill later heard a radio programme (coincidentally hosted by me!) on an English language talk station based in Marbella. She was delighted to discover more about the man who founded the clinic and the pioneering eye sight correction techniques carried out there. The interview reinforced her decision.

“Coming from a medical family, I knew that I had chosen the best place.

“Some friends tried to dissuade me from going through with it while others suggested finding another ophthalmic clinic nearer to home; but I was convinced.”

Horses are Jill’s passion

As it turned out Jill’s first appointment revealed that she was suffering from acutely dry eyes.

“I knew that I had dry eyes but I had no idea that the condition was as bad as it was. My optometrist, Brendan, was able to show me pictures of the surface of my eyes where you could clearly see the damage. At that stage, I was not a suitable candidate for surgery”, she recalls.

Dr Dan prescribed a course of special eye drop medication which it was hoped would improve the condition.

After following the recommended treatment, Jill had not felt any noticeable change by the time she returned to the clinic for her next check up.

“I had come down to London by train from visiting my mother in Rugby. I assumed that it would be a short appointment and that, unfortunately, I would be told that I was one of the few patients who couldn’t be treated.

“Imagine my amazement when Brendan showed me the new pictures of my eyes and told me that they were now healthy enough for the operation.”

And more surprises were in store. There was an opening in that afternoon’s surgery schedule if Jill wanted to have the operation straight away.

“I thought about it for a minute or two and then thought ‘why not?’ I could get a taxi to the station and then I would only have to sit on a train back to Rugby where I would take a cab to my mother’s house. The journey would be straight forward and there was no time to feel nervous.”

Like most London Vision Clinic patients, Jill then enjoyed some chocolate – for its medicinal, relaxing properties – and sat back in reception for a short wait.

She found the LASIK process fascinating rather than frightening and felt relaxed and confident throughout.

“It was absolutely magical!

“I completely trusted Prof Reinstein and I just knew that everything would be fine.”

The following morning Jill phoned her husband with a: “guess what I am doing?”

“He couldn’t believe it when I told him that I was sitting at the kitchen table in my mother’s house reading the newspaper … without glasses!”

Two years on and Jill is still enjoying the freedom of being glasses free.

“I don’t think I had fully realised the ongoing benefits of laser eye surgery until after the operation. It is a constant joy being able to see clearly without glasses.”

So were there any disadvantages to electing to travel from Malaga to London for the procedure?

“None that I can think of”, says Jill.

“Everyone working at the clinic is professional and if I have any queries they always get back to me exactly when they say.

“I found it especially reassuring to receive Dr Dan’s text the evening after my operation.”

Understanding the importance of keeping all of her post-op appointments, she has managed to combine them with visits to relatives in the UK.

However, after a few moments thought, Jill did come up with a couple of disadvantages of being an “overseas patient”.

Being a jazz fan she is only sorry not to have managed to coincide a trip to London with one of Dr Dan’s gigs at the 606 club. And she is also sorry to have – so far – missed out on attending a patient party… maybe next time?