It is a known fact that stereotypes live on through jokes, and no more so than when describing health professionals.

Q: What is the difference between an ophthalmologist and a God? A: A God does not think of themself as an ophthalmologist.

Q: Having confirmed the existence of the Higgs boson, what next for the large hadron collider? A: To confirm the existence of an NHS dentist.

Q: How many optometrists does it take to change a light bulb? Answers by email, please.

One stereotype held about eye care professionals is that we tend to talk about work a lot. A GP colleague thinks it is our way of challenging any accusations of an ‘anorak’ existence. Anecdotes of interesting patients abound, as I reminded my increasingly administration-swamped friend, and we can all learn from them.

This week, a new non-invasive NHS test, developed at Birmingham Women’s and Children’s NHS Foundation Trust, has been launched that is able to detect the mutations that are likely to lead to the formation of retinoblastoma in the neonate. This exciting news was somewhat dampened by one expert stating that, at just around 50 cases a year, retinoblastoma was so rare that it would make little difference to most people.

Cue anecdote time. Some 20 years ago, a fellow parent brought her three-year-old to me in a community practice convinced that there was something different about her daughter’s appearance for the last few weeks. She had consulted her GP who had told her ‘she worried too much.’ It was immediately obvious that one of the child’s pupils was paler than the other. The leukocoria turned out to be due to a detachment caused by retinoblastoma. Enucleation followed, but the other eye remains healthy to this day. As I was well-taught at Aston; always listen to mother.

Overall healthcare is best delivered by an alliance of specialisms.

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