Big changes to small lives at Alder Hey Children's Hospital

"You observe step by step these very young infants starting to see for the first time, to explore and become quite confident”


No day is the same when working at Alder Hey Children’s Hospital in Liverpool.

Each year, the hospital cares for more than 270,000 children, young people and their families.

Ophthalmologist, Jose Gonzalez-Martin, told OT that he enjoyed his work because treating children was very refreshing.

“They will tell you straight to your face whether they like you or not. It’s fun – not every consultation is the same. You have to earn their trust,” Mr Gonzalez-Martin emphasised.

He explained that the way in which information is communicated to parents about their child’s condition is very important.

Giving a parent small amounts of information during frequent visits and checking that they understand the information is key, Mr Gonzalez-Martin noted.

“Sometimes you find that if you give too much information at once, they become overwhelmed and it can be quite difficult for them to digest what you’ve said,” he added.

Optometrist, Ian Cunningham, highlighted to OT that working with children was a privilege.

“We’re fortunate and unfortunate to see children who are very poorly. They guide us in the way we lead our lives because they don’t let that restrict them,” he explained.

Mr Cunningham is involved in helping to rehabilitate children who are born with cataracts by fitting them with contact lenses and spectacles.

Seeing the children progress in their vision brought him a sense of achievement.

“You observe step by step these very young infants starting to see for the first time, to explore and become quite confident,” Mr Cunningham highlighted.

“You see them when they are school age and they are able to read the blackboard, with the benefit of bifocal lenses, they are able to read a book.

“It’s quite amazing because without all these different professionals involved there would have been no potential for vision at all,” he emphasised.

It was also rewarding to see how fitting a child with contact lenses could change the way they perceive themselves, Mr Cunningham explained.

The change could boost the self-esteem of children who had only worn high power spectacles previously.

“For the first time ever, they are not viewing themselves as different,” Mr Cunningham concluded.