Emma’s a rising star in the world of health research

Dr Emma Worrell, who lives in Crowborough, has been named a rising star in the world of health research for the work she is doing leading a new national study looking into comfort and outcomes for people using an artificial eye.

Dr Emma Worrell pictured second from the right with her framed award

The Principal Maxillofacial Prosthetist at the Queen Victoria Hospital in East Grinstead has beaten off strong competition from researchers from across the region to be given the ‘Rising Star Award’ at the National Institute for Health Research Clinical Research Network Kent, Surrey and Sussex Awards.

With over 25 years’ experience within the maxillofacial prosthetics field, alongside her clinical work, Emma has always had a keen interest in research.  She believes this is an exciting opportunity for the hospital which has always been a specialist centre for reconstructive surgery, oculoplastics and prosthetic rehabilitation.

On winning the Rising Star Award, Emma said:

It is lovely to get the acknowledgement for everybody’s hard work and it is great to see the study coming together and gaining good recruitment numbers.  So far more than 400 patients have participated and we’re working with 34 hospitals from across the UK, with more looking to get involved.  In understanding the needs and experiences of people currently using an artificial eye we can better provide for our patients, and further improve our patients’ experience.  It’s a really exciting time.

When somebody loses an eye due to damage or disease, they almost always choose to have an artificial eye rather than wear an eye patch.  The artificial eye is carefully made to perfectly match the patient’s existing eye.

However, patients who wear artificial eyes often suffer with dry eye symptoms.  Seeing through just one eye also affects depth perception and can make daily activities such as going down stairs or pouring boiling water into a mug tricky.

The study was devised because the most commonly referenced book for adapting to monocular vision was first published in 1972.

Professor Geeta Menon, Clinical Director at the NIHR Clinical Research Network in Kent, Surrey and Sussex (third from the left in the group photo) said:

Emma has shown dedication and motivation to this home-grown study by engaging Kent, Surrey and Sussex sites not previously involved in eye research.  A large number of sites across the country have now signed up.  Emma is very proactive and is now a co-lead for the ophthalmology specialty within the south east of England.

Dr Worrell is undertaking this study into ocular prosthesis alongside Mr Raman Malhotra, Consultant Ophthalmologist and Oculplastic Surgeon at the Queen Victoria Hospital.  The study has partnered with hospitals across the UK including the East Kent Hospitals University NHS Foundation Trust, Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust and Medway NHS Foundation Trust to enable as many patients as possible to be involved.

The study is being funded by an Ocular Award from the Institute of Maxillofacial Prosthetists and Technologists.  In addition, this is a National Portfolio study and fully supported by the National Institute for Health Research Clinical Research Network.

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