Belfast Telegraph

Working Lunch: Johnny Moore of Cathedral Eye Clinic

Johnny Moore, clinical director of Cathedral Eye Clinic in Belfast, tells Margaret Canning about his firm's major £2m investment in new technology.

We've all heard that skirt lengths and lipstick sales are barometers of the economy's health - as the economy dips, they go up.

And Professor Johnny Moore, clinical director of Cathedral Eye Clinic, reveals that take-up of laser eye surgery can also reveal how healthy the economy is - according to a New York Times article in 2008, at least.

It must be healthy, as Johnny can only make late lunch at nearby Hadskis due to his hectic schedule at the clinic, now moving from York Street.

The new clinic on Alfred Street represents a £2m investment, and brings a new form of key-hole laser eye technology to Ireland for the first time.

As well as Johnny, the clinic has 10 specialist consultants.

Johnny opts for a light lunch of crispy bacon and baby gem salad with toasted hazelnuts and Young Buck cheese.

I also choose a light option of a spectacular-looking dressed crab salad with long, thin pieces of toast.

Johnny, who is originally from Ballymena but now lives near Ballyclare, is extremely busy. When not working in Cathedral Eye Clinic, which he established in 2008, he's operating in the Royal Victoria Hospital on NHS patients.

After finishing medicine at Queen's in 1991, he realised he wanted the challenge of an intricate branch of medicine, such as cardiology, orthopaedics or ophthalmology. "I'm quite good with my hands.

"But with orthopaedics, you are up all night every third night, so that put me off." (However, he observes that as the father of seven children aged from two to 13, his sleep is fairly compromised anyway.)

He was slightly conflicted, despite the draw of a challenging branch of medicine. "I had friends going to Australia and fancied that as well. I applied for ophthalmology, but was almost hoping not to get in." But he did get in - and as they say, the rest is history.

"They offered me a post and I thought, if I don't take it now, I will never get it. So I couldn't go to Australia." But he did eventually get to Australia on a research fellowship. "I lived in Adelaide in a little apartment by the sea, so I went to sleep at night listening to the surf."

He and his wife also lived in Boston, where Johnny obtained a research lab-based part of his PhD, then spent a year in Birmingham for a final clinical fellowship. He won a Duke Elder prize for ophthalmology undergraduates.

He looks fondly on his medicine studies, and his work as an anatomical demonstrator at Queen's, presiding over dissections to educate medical students about human anatomy.

"There was something special about working with new medical students who have this desire to change the world and help people."

From his work with patients, he knows all about the life-changing effects of laser eye surgery. Inevitably, I ask why he hasn't had it himself. He will soon, he assures me.

  • Next week: Joris Minne meets Lynn Carvill of Women's TEC at James Street South

Belfast Telegraph