When Shelagh Collins (65) began to have trouble with her left eye, at first, she wasn’t too worried – thinking her routine appointment at the Worcester Eye Hospital would give her the opportunity to get it checked out. But when that appointment was cancelled, with the Eye Hospital closed due to the Coronavirus, the Worcester grandmother began to worry about who would be able to help her.
‘I noticed that I had blurring on my left eye with some black dots and squiggles,’ commented Shelagh. ‘What was more concerning was that my left eye is my good eye – I have ongoing issues with my right eye which means I see the consultant at the Eye Hospital regularly. But when I found out that appointment wasn’t going ahead, I had to look for alternative care.
‘First, I rang my GP but after speaking to them and realising I would need a telephone appointment I wondered if that was the best option as they wouldn’t be able to physically see me. So, I tried to contact my usual optician, but they were closed. My husband uses Specsavers on Pump Street in Worcester, so I tried there, relieved to find out that they were open for essential and urgent care.’
Shelagh made an appointment and was seen by the store director and optometrist Dean Roberts on Monday 30 March. He immediately picked up that all wasn’t as it should be, suspecting a retinal tear to her left eye and so rang Kidderminster Eye Hospital there and then, forwarding on her notes.
The hospital called back and Shelagh was seen by the consultant on Thursday 2 April.
‘The consultant said it was great – which was strange - but what he meant was it was great as the tear had been picked up early. Most of the retinal tear cases he sees the damage has already been done and the only option is an operation. In my case they were able to treat the tear with a laser. I had the procedure done there and then, which gave me less time to worry about it.
‘I’m now home and pottering around the garden, incredibly thankful that I managed to get seen when I did by Specsavers and for the follow up care at the hospital. If I’d left it, I could have lost the sight in that eye – and what with the sight in my right eye already weak I’d have been at risk of becoming blind.’
‘We’re delighted to hear that Shelagh has been treated and that no long-term damage has been caused,’ added Dean. ‘We’ve suspended all routine testing for the foreseeable future to focus on emergency care – cases just like Shelagh’s - and to help key workers.’
Specsavers' teams are classed as key workers to provide urgent and essential eye care to those who need it. That includes supporting other key workers who couldn’t function without their help and people who would come to harm without their health expertise, especially where the usual hospital services and NHS facilities are being prioritised for the fight against COVID-19.
Customers can phone the store for advice and to be assessed on the level of care that they might need, the only exception being key workers who are able to walk in and seek immediate advice. Glasses and contact lenses can also be purchased online for customers with a current prescription.