• The then PM woke up in 2009 barely able to see and spent a week in that state
  • Mr Brown was already blind in left eye after a kick to head during rugby match
  • A secret visit to Moorfields Eye hospital led to urgent operation on a Sunday

Daniel Martin for the Daily Mail

Former prime minister Gordon Brown has described the dramatic moment he feared he would lose his sight completely. 

He said that when he woke up one day in September 2009 his vision was so blurred that he knew something was very wrong.

His problems had begun decades earlier when he lost the sight in his left eye and suffered a loss of vision in his right eye, despite four major operations, after a kick to his head during a school rugby match.

He struggled on with his limited vision, but then there came a moment in Downing Street when he wondered if he might lose his sight altogether.

Gordon Brown has revealed that he could barely see on this visit The City Academy in Hackney in 2009 (pictured) and feared he was about to go blind

Gordon Brown has revealed that he could barely see on this visit The City Academy in Hackney in 2009 (pictured) and feared he was about to go blind

Gordon Brown has revealed that he could barely see on this visit The City Academy in Hackney in 2009 (pictured) and feared he was about to go blind

For a week he had attended to his Cabinet business, speech-writing and attending meetings without being able to see properly. He did not tell colleagues that anything was wrong.

‘When I woke up in Downing Street one Monday in September, I knew something was very wrong,’ he said. ‘My vision was foggy.

‘That morning, I was to visit the City Academy in Hackney to speak about our education reform agenda.

Gordon Brown reveals he feared he was going completely blind after his remaining vision seriously deteriorated while he was prime minister

Gordon Brown reveals he feared he was going completely blind after his remaining vision seriously deteriorated while he was prime minister

Gordon Brown reveals he feared he was going completely blind after his remaining vision seriously deteriorated while he was prime minister

‘I kept the engagement, doing all I could to disguise the fact that I could see very little – discarding the prepared notes and speaking extemporaneously.

‘Straight afterwards, I was driven to the consulting room of a prominent surgeon at the Moorfields Eye Hospital in London.

‘To my shock, in examining my right eye, he discovered that the retina was torn in two places and said that an operation was urgently needed. He generously agreed to operate that Sunday.’

Mr Brown added: ‘I asked him on the way out if an old friend, Hector Chawla – whom I had last seen briefly on the day he retired as a surgeon – could be invited to give his opinion too.

‘I emailed Hector, who was in France, but he offered to come to the hospital that Sunday morning on his way back home. I was already prepared for surgery when he examined me and said he was convinced that the tears had not happened in the past few days. They were not new but long-standing.

‘His advice was blunt. There was no point in operating unless the sight deteriorated further. Laser surgery in my case was more of a risk than it was worth. If my sight worsened, doctors would have to operate within the eye, as before – not with a laser. Both surgeons agreed that this was not the time to operate.’

He said: ‘I am grateful that the retina has held to this day and I feel lucky beyond words.

‘Even if I felt fate had dealt me a hand I would not have chosen, my time in and out of hospital – and the fight for my eyesight – gave me a perspective that I still feel helps me to be more understanding of difficulties facing others in a far worse position than me’.

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