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Business & Profession Professional Development

Help the Heroes

I’ve been fortunate enough to meet with many of the big names in eyecare, and I’ve either interviewed many of them, or worked with them to produce some amazing feature articles. Interviewing this year’s Power List #1 George Spaeth (1) for this month’s issue was an utter privilege: a humble, wise, hardworking man, who has lived a great life, and continues to do so, leading by example.

Every single person on each of our Power Lists has worked extremely hard to get to where they are, and although everyone has an ego, you’d be surprised by just how many of them attribute a large part of their success to luck – I often hear, “Oh, I was just in the right place at the right time”. I think it’s right and proper that we celebrate the achievements of people that have done so much to help people see over their careers, but… 

What if they hadn’t been in the right place at the right time? The researchers that chose a different thread of investigation; the surgeons who took a different fellowship? The fact is, all ophthalmologists, “listed” or not, have incredible caseloads, and many struggle to find time to do anything else other than perform thousands of sight-restoring procedures. I may have a bee in my bonnet about aging baby boomers being a vision timebomb (2), but the message I hear time and time again from whoever I speak to is that the AMD clinics are at bursting point, the cataract lists are virtually endless…

So what I’m proposing is this. I am going to speak to the people on the front line of the battle against vision-robbing disease, and ask them about the challenges they face, how they address some of those challenges, and what they think needs to be done about addressing the rest of them. I believe there’s value in that, and importantly I hope that this will help give some deserved exposure to some of the unsung heroes of the wards.

No ranking, just narrative. If you’d like to point me in the right direction of your unsung heroes, please get in contact – my details are on the masthead. I want this magazine to be your magazine. I think we are, but I hope this will make us more so.

Mark Hillen

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  1. M Hillen, R McGuigan, “Celebrate Life! Sitting Down With... George L. Spaeth”, The Ophthalmologist, 30, 51–52 (2016). Available at:
  2. M Hillen, “A vision time bomb”, The Ophthalmologist, 6, 20–25 (2014). Available at:

About the Author

Mark Hillen

I spent seven years as a medical writer, writing primary and review manuscripts, congress presentations and marketing materials for numerous – and mostly German – pharmaceutical companies. Prior to my adventures in medical communications, I was a Wellcome Trust PhD student at the University of Edinburgh.

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