When mum of five Gwenda Dixon walked into her local Specsavers opticians in Sutton last year, she had no idea that it would be a visit that would save her life, as well as her sight, after it led to the diagnosis of a brain tumour.
Mrs Dixon, 52, started to experience problems with her vision in July 2012, when she started seeing coloured lights and 'bubbles', accompanied by sharp headaches.
Her doctor recommended an eye test so she booked an appointment. The alarm bells began to ring for Mrs Dixon, when optometrist Jamil Nanda called in a colleague to look at the photos of the back of her eye, taken on the store's digital retinal camera. Immediately, there was a sense of urgency.
Mrs Dixon says: 'They told me I needed to go to the hospital. I said I would go in on Monday but they told me I needed to go as soon as possible.'
After tests at Sutton Eye Hospital, she was transferred to St Helier Hospital, where she underwent more scans and was given the shocking diagnosis of a benign brain tumour.
Recalling the moment she received the news, Mrs Dixon says: 'It did not seem real at first, it affected the family more than me; I thought I had to stay strong for them. It hit me more when I actually went back into hospital to have the operation, the whole thing was more real then.'
Mrs Dixon had the tumour removed in November, three weeks after her eye test.
'I was amazed at how quickly the whole thing was dealt with. If I hadn't visited the optician when I did,
and then the hospital for treatment, the implications could have been very serious', she says.
Following the operation, Mrs Dixon's headaches and vision problems have disappeared, but as a side effect of the surgery she sadly lost her sense of taste and smell.
Her friends and family meanwhile, have all been prompted to book in for their own health checks.
Most Specsavers stores are equipped to provide digital retinal photography. This is provided at no extra charge to your eye test.
Health check your eyes
Your eyes are windows to your overall health. Looking into them allows your optician to spot the early signs of a wide range of conditions including:
- Heart disease
- Cancers of the eye, such as melanoma
- Brain tumours
- High cholesterol
- High blood pressure
- Detached retina
Read more about eye tests and digital retinal photography.