Stuart Cumming (Stuart Cumming photograph1944-51) 

Stuart Cumming left Bolton School to study Medicine at Manchester University and after qualifying worked at Bolton General Hospital. He decided to leave the UK in the early 1960s, fed up with the politics of the time, and joined the Royal Australian Navy. Stuart then headed to Lagos, Nigeria and later in 1965 went to the US where he decided to specialise in Ophthalmology. After finishing the four years’ training, he spent four years with Allegan, a pharmaceuticals company producing eye medications and contact lens solutions, becoming Vice-President of the International Division, before setting up his own Ophthalmic practice in California.

Stuart became a pioneer in the field of Intraocular Lenses (most widely known as the artificial lenses implanted in the eye to treat cataracts), developing and producing the revolutionary Crystalens. This type of lens moves constantly backwards and forwards in response to the pressure changes between the front and back of the eye, providing both near vision and distance vision for the patient. It is no exaggeration to say that this has redefined the scope and nature of eye surgery across the globe.

Stuart is an internationally renowned and much sought after eye surgeon – the President of Vietnam personally requested for Stuart to operate on him! He was the invited Guest Speaker at St Thomas’ Hospital’s prestigious biennial Ridley Lectures in London.  He was elected the Southern California and Arizona Entrepreneur of the Year in 2008. He now lives in Orange County California but travels frequently, He is developing a new type of lens to better the Crystalens, to allow patients to avoid having to use reading glasses which they sometimes have to do with the Crystalens – Stuart hopes that this is going to be brought to market in the next four years.

What is your connection to Bolton School?

I was born in Turton and joined Bolton School in Park Road. My father and brother, both doctors, and a cousin are all Old Boltonians. I left in 1951 to study at the University of Manchester.

What are your fondest memories of School?

My fondest memories are of playing in the school’s cricket teams, and of my time in the Scouts, led at the time by Roger Kirk. I had a wonderful, rounded education. Although I pursued the sciences, I was given liberal exposure to the arts, and learnt how to work collaboratively with people in a team. We were all encouraged to have a sense of adventure – it was a very enjoyable life.

What advice would you give to Bolton School pupils today?

A personable character, good manners, common sense, integrity and ambition are all hugely important – these qualities will stand you in good stead. Life is an adventure and working for yourself can be very rewarding. Do not give up – keep on trying at whatever it is you are doing.