A world title is the target after sight-saving eye surgery

24 September 2019

He started shooting at the age of 10 and went on to win a number of international awards but, when he virtually lost the sight in his left eye, Donovan Jenkin feared he might have ‘taken aim’ for the last time.

But following laser surgery, carried out by Midland’s eye specialist Mr Daniel Calladine, Donovan is back in action and ready to take part in the World Championships when they are held in Rome later this year.

Donovan competes in Helice shooting – an offshoot of clay pigeon shooting – where targets with propellers are released from a series of ‘traps’. But where the clay travels in a predictable direction, a Helice target has an unpredictable flight path.

He was runner up in the 1990 English Open and won the Le Touquet Grand Prix in France in 1992. He also won the Grand Prix de France in 1993 before deciding to take a break from the sport to concentrate on his ever-expanding landscaping business.

When Donovan decided to come out of retirement in 2016, he began competing again and was soon back to winning ways – adding another Le Touquet Grand Prix trophy in 2017 to his honours list.

But within weeks of that victory, he began having problems with vision in his left eye and was advised to wear prescription glasses. However, the problem continued and it wasn’t long before he had lost virtually all sight from that eye.

“I shoot from the left shoulder so I am left eye dominant. It looked like my shooting days were well and truly over,” Donovan explained.

It was discovered he had astigmatism and underwent surgery to fit a replacement lens which should have solved the problem. However, the blurred vision quickly returned and he was advised to meet with Ophthalmic Consultant Mr Calladine at Spire Little Aston Hospital in Sutton Coldfield.

Mr Calladine who heads up the Spire Eye Centre, which this month celebrates its tenth anniversary, explained: “Mr Jenkin has undergone lens replacement surgery at another centre to help correct his distance vision and also reduce his astigmatism.

“Technically the surgery had gone well but, unfortunately, he was left with residual astigmatism. This is not uncommon following refractive type lens surgery and can mean patients often have to go back to wearing glasses.

“We were able to correct the astigmatism using an excimer laser which we brought into the Centre as part of a £200,000 investment package. It meant we were able to reduce the astigmatism to practically zero while also altering the focus of his eye to improve his long-distance vision.

“I am delighted to say it was an excellent outcome and really gives him the eagle-eye vision he needs to take part in Helice shooting.”

Six weeks after the operation Donovan was back in Le Touquet to win his third Grand Prix and then came second in the British Helice Grand Prix.

He said: “It is remarkable. I thought my shooting days were over and here I am competing at international level again. Now I’m really looking forward to the World Championships.

“If I do win a medal there I may well present it to Mr Calladine to thank him for all his work and help the Eye Centre celebrate its tenth anniversary.”

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