Garry Schofield: Leeds Rhinos great set for surgery to remove eye after two years of 'total discomfort'

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Leeds Rhinos and Great Britain legend Garry Schofield will undergo surgery next week to remove his left eye.

The 56-year-old - who jointly holds the record for most Great Britain appearances, with 46 - revealed he has been blind in the eye for almost two years.

He has now opted for the operation to restore his quality of life after living in constant discomfort.

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Schofield began his playing career with Hull and joined his home city club Leeds in 1987 for a then-world record £155,000 fee.

Garry Schofield in action for Leeds. Picture by Steve Riding.Garry Schofield in action for Leeds. Picture by Steve Riding.
Garry Schofield in action for Leeds. Picture by Steve Riding.

He spent nine years at Headingley, becoming one of the greatest players in the club’s history and later had spells with Huddersfield Giants, Doncaster and Bramley before hanging up his boots in 1999.

“It started - believe it or not - on Friday, December 13 in 2019,” Schofield revealed of his vision problems.

“I was driving to work and started getting some lightning flashes in my eye, that lasted for about half an hour.

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“That evening I started getting some black bubbles in my eye and they lasted for about half an hour.

Garry Schofield. Picture by Steve Riding.Garry Schofield. Picture by Steve Riding.
Garry Schofield. Picture by Steve Riding.

“The next day, I got like a deep fog in my eye and about half an hour after that I got red bubbles in my eye and I went blind, I couldn’t see.”

Schofield was taken to Pinderfields Hospital in Wakefield, where he was diagnosed with “a severe detachment of the retina and six tears in my eye and two severe tears”.

After visiting a consultant at St James’s Hospital in Leeds, he had an initial operation just three days after his first symptoms.

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He had a second operation, to flatten a fold in the eye and reattach the retina, just three weeks later and then further surgery after the retina detached again.

Garry Schofield scores for Leeds against Castleford at Headingley. Picture by Steve Riding.Garry Schofield scores for Leeds against Castleford at Headingley. Picture by Steve Riding.
Garry Schofield scores for Leeds against Castleford at Headingley. Picture by Steve Riding.

Schofield said, in total, he has had seven operations and three laser treatments and attended more than 50 hospital appointments.

“I’ve also been having massive issues with eye pressure,” Schofield added.

“Your eye pressure should be between five and 21.

“Unfortunately for me, I have had the highest eye pressure St James’s has ever known - my eye pressure has been up to 82.

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“They’ve said to me I should be on the ground, with pain in my head.

“At times it wasn’t so bad, but at others it felt as though my eye wanted to pop out, my head was pounding and it felt like my head was going to explode.”

After almost two years, Schofield said: “My eye is knackered.

“I accepted about eight months ago I have lost my sight in my left eye, but having spoken to the consultants, the eye now needs to be removed.

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“I am in discomfort and it has come to the stage where I am having plastic surgery on September 29, the eye will be coming out and after however long it takes to recover, I can get back to normality in my life.”

Schofield is uncertain if the eye problems are related to his rugby career.

“If it is, it will be put in the hands of my lawyers because it is a life-changing situation,” he said.

“When I played rugby I got knocked out three times and depressed my cheekbone on the left side, so whether that’s a coincidence only time will tell.

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“For the last two years my life has been uncomfortable, concentration levels are very limited.

“The right solution is the eye has to come out so I can get back to some normality.”

Modern plastic surgery means the days of old glass eyes are long gone.

“It is not going to spoil much of my good looks,” Schofield - who has had to reduce his work commitments and his role as a rugby league pundit - joked.

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“People will say I’ve never been able to see properly, judging by some of the comments I’ve given.

“But I need an end to all this. When I go to St James’s next Wednesday for my operation, it will be the 52nd time since all this began.

“That’s no good for anybody.

“People say it’s a traumatic thing to do, but if I could give it to you for 24 hours you’d understand what sort of disruption it has caused.

“I know it’s a bit more dramatic than having a tooth out, but when you’ve got tooth ache the tooth has to come out because you’re in severe pain.

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“I am in total discomfort. Now I am on four different sets of eye drops and an ointment to put in my eye.

“I’ve got to put 13 drops in my eye at night time and the ointment and I can’t do that for the rest of my life.

“It is just too uncomfortable,

“It has gone on and the best solution is to have the eye taken out.”

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