Medical miracle for Sheffield patient who thought he would never see again
Bill Skipworth, from Middlewood, believed he was permanently blind - but following an operation at the Royal Hallamshire Hospital, the 63-year-old can see almost completely clearly in his left eye.
“I opened the curtains and could see everything - I’m a modern-day miracle,” he said.
Bill, a former dentist, started suffering from glaucoma in his 30s, and lost the sight in his right eye more than a decade ago.
After his left eye also began to fail, he underwent surgery at the Hallamshire in July to stabilise the condition.
The operation was a success but led to a dense white cataract forming, which completely obscured his vision.
Bill was then filmed by the BBC for a programme called The Week That Changed My Life, chronicling his efforts to adjust to a world of darkness - although since his sight returned, he has been told his story will no longer be aired.
A follow-up procedure at the Hallamshire earlier this month proved a success, and he was astonished to wake up two days later with almost perfect vision in his left eye.
“I had the operation on a Friday and at first it appeared not to work, but on the Sunday morning I opened the curtains and could see everything,” he said.
“I saw my wedding ring and my wife’s face for the first time in three months, and then I saw all the leaves and I was jumping up and down on them because I was so happy.
“I’m a modern-day miracle and I’m so grateful to everyone at the Hallamshire Hospital who helped me see again.”
Bill, who has two adult sons, supports Sheffield Royal Society for the Blind, and presents a weekly radio show on community station Sheffield Live for blind and visually impaired listeners.
But he says losing his sight - albeit for just three months - has given him a new understanding of the difficulties faced by blind people, and made him even more determined to do what he can to help.
“When I first lost my sight, I was crawling around on the carpet at home trying to work out where everything was. The help I got from other blind people was amazing,” he said.
“Now I’ve been blind and can see again I want to dedicate the rest of my life to helping blind people in Sheffield.”
Bill, who is a talented musician, has recorded a CD with fellow pianist Ed Daw, called the Best of Bill and Ed. The album, set to be released shortly, includes a track titled From Darkness to Light, which Bill wrote about losing his vision.
Consultant ophthalmologist Graham Auger, of Sheffield Teaching Hospitals, said: “We are very pleased that Mr Skipworth has had such a positive outcome and now has significantly better vision.
“We are very fortunate to have some of the best healthcare professionals in the NHS working in our ophthalmology team here at the Royal Hallamshire Hospital and their skills, teamwork and commitment to good care enable us to help patients like Bill.”