The Vale of Glamorgan's Premier Lifestyle Magazine

Vale Life Winter Cover Stars: Vale Eye Surgeons

Vale Eye Surgeons is a newly formed, high-tech eye clinic in Cowbridge set up by a group of three talented eye experts: Magdalena Popiela, Thomas Betts and Ryan Davies.
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Here, colleagues Ryan, Magda and Thomas tell us about their journey to setting up their dream clinic. The three met during their ophthalmic specialty training in Wales and became friends. They each shared a dream of owning their own eye clinic. This formed the basis for setting up Vale Eye Surgeons and, in their own words, “basically came about through a series of lucky events, and hard work”.

Tom and Ryan have lived in the Vale for quite few years and saw a possibility of renting premises in the Beauty Within Medi Spa in Cowbridge at the beginning of 2022. At that point Magda was still working in Gibraltar. Many video calls later they decided to make their dream a reality. “We set up the company, rented the premises, prepared all relevant paperwork, transported the equipment and subsequently renovated the new clinic rooms. We are all delighted with what we have achieved in such short period of time and especially proud as we all hold full time jobs in the NHS in addition to setting up the Vale Eye Surgeons.”

Obviously we wanted to find out more about their plans, so we caught up with the team at their Cowbridge clinic.

Why did you set up the clinic? What was the motivation?

We came together to open the Vale Eye Surgeons with a vision of being able to provide tailored patient care in a nice, clinical set up. We aim to offer appointments and treatments to our patients promptly and at convenient times, as well as offer services which are not available on the NHS.

Please tell us about the treatments…
These would include removing lumps and bumps from the eye lids, treating cataract surgery as a procedure to get rid of the need for glasses, and facial aesthetic treatments. We also have a YAG laser in the clinic, which we use for treatment of thickening of posterior capsule. This treatment might be needed after cataract surgery. Our one-stop laser clinics have become very popular with patients.

You offer cataract surgery. What are cataracts and how would you treat them?
A cataract is clouding of the natural lens inside your eye. It is usually an age-related process, which causes blurred vison, loss of contrast or glare. Cataract can be treated by surgery during which your natural cloudy lens is removed and replaced with an artificial lens. These days there are many artificial lenses to choose from and each provides different benefits for post operative vision. At the Vale Eye Surgeons clinic, we can advise you on which of these lenses will fit your lifestyle best, as well as discuss options for less dependence on glasses after your surgery.

As we get older, some of us have fairly good vison but we need reading glasses, why is that?
When our eyes mature two things happen to the natural lens of the eye- it gets stiffer and becomes cloudy. Clouding is called a cataract and leads to blurry vison, loss of contrast or glare. Whereas loss of the lens elasticity causes reduction in the range of close-up vision and in most people, this is the reason for needing reading glasses. This is called Presbyopia and it is not synonymous with cataract. The two processes are caused by a different issue with your natural lens. However, both can be addressed by one procedure – cataract surgery. If you are interested in glasses independence after cataract surgery, please come and have a chat with us.

What are your future plans for the clinic?
Our ultimate goal would be to open our very own eye theatre. Currently we each take our Vale patients to be operated on in established private hospitals in the Vale of Glamorgan, Cardiff and Newport. We hope to build links with other clinics in Cardiff, so we can provide eye services to a wider community. We also would like to offer a wider range of aesthetic treatments to our patients partnering with a local plastic surgeon.

Treatments and services
* Ophthalmic consultations
* YAG laser treatments for lens polish
* Cataract surgery
* Blepharoplasty
* Removal of lid lumps and bumps
* Pterygium removal
* Botox

Vale Eye Surgeons don’t just offer clinical or restorative surgery. The clinic also provides cosmetic surgery through association with Mr Richard Karoo. Richard tells us more.


Cosmetic surgery can be incredibly life-changing in the most positive of ways. Of all the facial procedures I perform, Blepharoplasty (Eyelid reduction) surgery is one of the most instantaneous on table transformations undertaken.

When we take into consideration the importance of our eyes for non-verbal communication, sharing of emotions, recognition (even when we were wearing masks) and that 50-70% of our gaze during face-to-face interactions is focused around the periorbital region. We can see why rejuvenation to this area can result in that most noticeable refreshed appearance by those around you.

Eyelid (Blepharoplasty) surgery can be undertaken to remove skin excess to the upper lids, lower lids and also help address fatty pockets which bulge forwards resulting in eyebags. Everyone’s anatomy differs very slightly and so having a variety of techniques and approaches will help achieve the optimal results.

There are occasions when a patients eyebrows sit low and heavy on the forehead, and in these instances a discussion around brow lifting techniques, be it endoscopic, open direct or internal browpexy considered only if felt appropriate.

Technically careful planning should be considered and discussed with your operating surgeon at the time of your first consultation to help achieve the optimal results. A cooling off period for you to reflect. Ensure that your surgeon is trained and experienced in this field and consider your aftercare, this is just as important as the surgery itself. Ultimately cosmetic blepharoplasty surgery really can help lift one’s confidence when undertaken in a safe and controlled manner.

Mr Richard Karoo FRCS Plast. is a Consultant Plastic, Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgeon.

Vale Eye Surgeons
10 High Street
The Vale of Glamorgan
CF71 7AG
079 7982 5075

Thank you
The team at Vale Eye Surgeons would like to thank Leila at King Fox and Esther at Jon Ian for ensuring they were suitably attired for the photo shoot.

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Magdalena Popiela Magda

I am a cornea and anterior segment specialist at the clinic. I also work as Consultant Ophthalmologist in the University Hospital of Wales.

Apart from general ophthalmology I look after patients who are interested in refractive cataract surgery, dry eyes and anyone with problems of the anterior segment of the eye. I really enjoy doing complicated lens calculations. I am a go to person for anyone who had refractive surgery in the past or has current problems with their cornea and now wishes to undergo cataract surgery.

I graduated from the University of Edinburgh in 2007 and subsequently completed my ophthalmology training in Wales. I have undertaken a cornea and anterior segment fellowship in Southampton. My initial consultant job took me to Gibraltar, where I set up corneal services and performed the first ever corneal transplant there. In 2022 I decided to return to Wales due to work and family commitments. I currently live in Cardiff with my husband, two children and our Labradoodle puppy.

My Vale Life…

I have always loved the Vale of Glamorgan as it is so picturesque. The Vale was the first place I visited when I moved down to Wales for my ophthalmology job in 2009. I also have a distant family connection to the Vale – my maternal uncle used to live here, and my mother spent her summer holiday in The Vale of Glamorgan as a teenager. In 2009 we tried to trace her steps and came across my favourite beach in the Vale – Southerndown. I enjoy walks along the coast and paddle boarding. We are looking for a new house and I might just convince my husband to move closer to the clinic and the coast.

Our favourite place to eat in the Vale, as a group, I would have to say is the Bear hotel – it is most frequently visited for business dinners. It is so nice to walk from the clinic to the restaurant. I also like visiting Lanerch Vineyard, sitting outside among the vines and tasting the produce. I am very glad we have had an opportunity to open the clinic is such a wonderful location. I do enjoy my scenic drive to work.

Thomas Betts Tom

I am a consultant ophthalmic surgeon at the University Hospital of Wales. I have a specialist interest in oculoplastic surgery with encompasses eyelid position and cosmetic eyelid surgery, watery eye surgery and the treatment of cancer around the eye.

I also deliver botulinum toxin (Botox) treatments. In addition to this I am experienced in providing general ophthalmology care and cataract surgery.

I graduated from The University of Dundee Medical School in 2007 and subsequently completed general ophthalmology training in Wales. I spent two years undertaking subspeciality training in oculoplastic surgery as a Fellow at Christchurch Hospital, New Zealand.

In 2020 I returned to a consultant position at The University Hospital of Wales. I am the ophthalmic lead for Cardiff and Vale University Health Board Skin Cancer Service and an Honorary Senior Lecturer at the Cardiff University School of Optometry and Vision Science.

My Vale Life…

I really love living in The Vale of Glamorgan with my young family. I am a keen sportsperson and enjoy multisport activities. Training for races in the Vale is such a treat with so many fantastic cycling and running opportunities on the doorstep. My personal highlight was completing Ironman in Copenhagen. This year I am getting into surfski paddling and the team at Pen-y-bont Surf Life Saving Club have been very encouraging.

When I get the chance to eat out, I tend to head to the Bush Inn in St. Hilary. I’ve known Andy Hooker for a long time through cycling and it’s such a welcoming family environment and I find it a very relaxing place to dine.

Ryan Davies

I am a general Ophthalmologist with a special interest in Paediatric eye conditions, strabismus (squints), and complex cataract surgery.

I also work as a Consultant at the Royal Gwent Hospital in Newport. I enjoy all aspects of ophthalmology and being a Paediatric Ophthalmologist gives me the opportunity to maintain a broad skill set.

My Vale Life…

I have lived in The Vale of Glamorgan for the best part of a decade, along with my wife, two children and Border Terrier. We lived in St Nicholas for a period of time but now closer to Cowbridge. We are very settled here so the opportunity to open the clinic in Cowbridge was too good to miss.

My main role of course is social secretary and taxi driver for my two children. Fortunately, the Vale has more than enough activities in its vicinity to keep them entertained, weather depending of course.

Our cover spine quote for this issue…
“I opened two gifts this morning. They were my eyes.”
Zig Ziglar