Dr Paul GD Spry PhD MCOptom DipTp (IP) DipGlauc: 1971-2021

  • 15 Sep 2021

We are deeply saddened to report the death of Dr Paul Spry MCOptom on 28 August 2021.

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Until his recent untimely death, Paul Spry was Consultant Optometrist and Head of Optometry and the Department of Shared Care and Visual Electrophysiology at Bristol Eye Hospital. He studied optometry at City University London and then completed his pre-registration year in the Ophthalmology Department at Cheltenham General Hospital. In 1993 he was awarded the Gibson prize for his achievements in the then professional qualifying examinations (PQEs), the former entry level examination prior to the introduction of the current scheme for registration as the route to qualification. Directly after registering, Paul worked as a research optometrist on the Bristol Shared Care Glaucoma study from 1993 to 1998, gaining his PhD from Bristol University on visual field examination strategies in glaucoma in 1998. He then spent 2 years on post-doctoral research in Portland, Oregan, US, working at Denvers Eye Institute with Professor Chris Johnson, collaborating on detection of progressive glaucomatous visual field loss. After returning to Bristol Eye Hospital in 2000, Paul became Head of what became known as the Shared Care Department in 2003, overseeing and leading the department’s subsequent growth.

Subsequently Paul attained a Diploma in epidemiology from the University of London, the Diploma in Glaucoma from the College of Optometrists, and in 2009 he was registered with the GOC in the ‘first wave’ as an Independent Prescribing Optometrist. He served on the College council during 2009 and was the optometrist expert on the first NICE glaucoma guideline development group in the same year. Paul’s contribution to glaucoma care by optometrists was hugely influential and significant, not only in his work with NICE but also in relation to the work of the College higher qualifications. Indeed, he was past chairman of both the College of Optometrists’ glaucoma subject expert panel and the Independent Prescribing examination standard setting panel. Subsequently he became the external examiner on the College’s Independent Prescribing panel.

Paul was a very talented clinician, working not only in glaucoma care and the eye emergency department but also in visual electrophysiology. He was not only clinically very accomplished, but he continued to be active academically. Paul published over fifty papers in the peer reviewed literature, with many of his papers being well cited and influential, not least in relation to glaucoma care. He published a major review on the identification of progressive visual field loss and several key papers on frequency doubling perimetry, visual field psychophysics and the Bristol shared care study. In 2010 he published a glaucoma handbook with longstanding friend and collaborator Robert Harper. He was actively working with colleagues in Manchester and at the College in 2021, looking at the ‘geography’ of College higher qualifications. On the CET scene Paul was a familiar face. At Optometry Tomorrow he spoke about glaucoma management and led workshops on gonioscopy and optic disc interpretation and decision making in glaucoma. Amusingly during one College regional event his lecture on ‘optic nerve head interpretation in glaucoma’ was interspersed with interactive voting on different sheep breeds in a light interlude very much enjoyed by his audience.

Paul contributed a huge amount to the optometry profession and ophthalmology, with his work impacting on optometrists in both secondary and primary care, not least in the field of glaucoma care. He leaves behind his daughter Lily Mae, her mother Helen, his parents, many friends in optometry, ophthalmology and beyond, and as he used to say in his short speaker biographies, his ‘very hairy dogs’ and sheep. First and foremost, Paul will be very sorely missed by so many as the gentleman and friend he was.  At the same time, he will be remembered for his significant contributions to the profession and to eyecare and the legacy therein. 

Dr Paul GD Spry PhD MCOptom DipTp (IP) DipGlauc: 7 August 1971- 28 August 2021

 

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