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The Growth of Oculoplastics

The ophthalmology sub speciality of oculoplastics is relatively new. It includes a wide variety of surgical procedures around the eyes and surrounding areas of the face.

Oculoplastic surgeons are ophthalmologists who train further in eyelid aesthetic surgery dealing with the area around the eyes, the orbit (or eye socket), tear ducts and the face. These procedures typically include the correction of droopy or baggy eyelids, unblocking of tear ducts, orbital fracture repairs, removal of tumours and eyelid reconstruction.
After completing an ophthalmology residency, oculoplastic surgery requires an additional fellowship training of typically two to three years.
“Oculoplastics is a developing subject. It grew as a sub-specialism within ophthalmology”, explains Clinica London founder, Jane Olver, who trained under Richard Collin, the eminent oculoplastic and reconstructive surgeon at Moorfields Eye Hospital in the late 1980’s and early 90’s.
“At the time there were only three people in London specialising in this field. All of them were based at Moorfields – one worked on orbits, one on tear ducts and the third on plastics.”
Jane knew, without a doubt, that this was the branch of ophthalmology for her.
“I just knew that I would have an instinctive understanding for this type of surgery – even before I was fully trained and only allowed to watch and assist at procedures. I decided very early on, that this was what I wanted to do.”
Eleven years ago, Jane – together with Richard Collin and Brian Leatherbarrow, consultant ophthalmic, oculoplastic and orbital surgeon at Manchester Royal Eye Hospital – recognised that the time was right to form the British Oculoplastics Surgery Society (www.bopss.org) .
In 2000 Jane became the society’s founding secretary – a position she held for six years- and as such played a pivotal role in the society’s growth and development.
“My job was to organise the first meeting and put together our constitution. In the early days, I also helped assess whether British surgeons were interested in lending their support .”
They were. The membership of eighty at the first meeting in 2001 (held in Birmingham) was greater than expected. There are now more than 120 members.
Today most large hospitals in the UK have an oculoplastic surgeon on their team and also offer a range of fellowship training schemes.
In recent years national societies similar to the BOPSS have sprung up throughout Europe; but not to the detriment of the original European Society of Ophthalmic Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery which continues to thrive.(www.esoprs.eu)
The work carried out by such medical societies is crucial, especially in a young subject such as oculoplastics.
“At the start it was important to promote the whole idea of oculoplastics within ophthalmology and to our ears, nose and throat and head and neck colleagues ; as well as the public at large”, recalls Jane.
“Increasingly we work on achieving consistency in training and quality standards within the field. On the cosmetic side we strive to make sure that training is always to the highest standard – such as for blepharoplasties and other aesthetic procedures. Members are also encouraged to present new work – we want to be recognised as an organisation where people can come for advice.”
At the most recent meeting – held in Cardiff in June – topics on the agenda included the use of photography related to data protection for patients, cancer guidelines, as well as standardisation of patient consent forms.
It is now possible via the BOPSS website to find the nearest registered oculoplastic surgeon http://www.bopss.org/plugins/geo_search/show_geo.php).
London, 27th May 2011


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