Gordon Brown reveals fight for eyesight in new memoir

From BBC - October 30, 2017

Gordon Brown has revealed in a new memoir how he feared he might completely lose his eyesight during his third year in Downing Street.

The then-prime minister, who has been blind in one eye since his teens, told how he tore a retina in the other eye.

He did not tell colleagues and tried to carry on with his cabinet duties despite not being able to see properly.

He also writes about his struggles with "touchy-feely" modern politics and what he got wrong, and right, as PM.

"When I woke up in Downing Street one Monday in September (2009), I knew something was very wrong. My vision was foggy," writes Mr Brown in My Life, Our Times.

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

Surgeons discovered the retina in his right eye was torn in two places.

They eventually decided not to operate, writes Mr Brown, who had lost the sight in his left eye following a teenage rugby accident.

"I am grateful that the (right) retina has held to this day and I feel lucky beyond words," he writes.

Downing Street released a statement at the time saying there had been "no change" in Mr Brown's eyesight and his visit to the hospital had been "part of regular checks on his eyes and this check was also fine".

Mr Brown, who took over as prime minister from Tony Blair in June 2007, without a Labour leadership contest, also writes about his regret that he could not convince voters of the need for "radical" reforms in the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis.


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