Bolton eye experts will assess Team GB Paralympic skiers at next games

Cara Burns, left, Jeff Kwartz and Alison Wilson

Visually-impaired skier Kelly Gallagher and her guide Charlotte Evans

First published in News The Bolton News: Photograph of the Author by , news feature writer

EYE specialists at the Royal Bolton Hospital have been invited to assess Team GB’s alpine skiing team at the next Paralympics in South Korea.

Consultant ophthalmologist Jeff Kwartz, specialist orthoptist Alison Wilson and specialist optometrist Cara Burns will all take part in testing the athletes at the hospital’s eye unit.

The invite came after Mrs Burns’ brother Tony McAllister, who is head coach of the British Disabled Ski Team, asked whether they would be able to carry out the rigorous classification tests which assess the athletes’ vision and visual field.

The news comes after the current Paralympic Team GB stormed the medals table in skiing at Sochi, including alpine skier Kelly Gallagher — Britain’s first-ever gold medal winner on snow.

Mrs Burns said: “My brother Tony and I have spoken about the possibility of doing the testing in the past and in September 2012 he decided to talk to us about a programme to assess the visually impaired athletes.”

Mr Kwartz will conduct the medical examinations of the athletes, Mrs Wilson will check their visual field and Mrs Burns will carry out the visual testing.

Mr Kwartz said: “It is really exciting to be invited to test the athletes.

“It’s quite prestigious and we are very keen to undertake the assessments, which will be done at the hospital, so we will be having some top athletes visiting here over the next few years.

"The athletes need to be classified as to what is wrong with their eyes, such as how much they can see and how wide their field of vision is, their acuity and eye movement.

“Some are partially sighted, some are very visually impaired, others have wobbly eyes and reduced vision.

“In Kelly Gallagher’s case she has oculocutaneous albinism, a condition that affects the pigment of her skin, hair and eyes.

“I am honoured to be asked to take part in the testing.

“It’s even more exciting now that we have won some medals at Sochi.”

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