A hi-tech retinal camera at Specsavers opticians in Sudbury has saved a woman’s life by detecting a life-threating condition.

Lysette Taylor, aged 22 from Sudbury, visited her local Specsavers for an eye examination after complaining of headaches and blurred vision.

Life-threatening swelling

Using equipment which takes a digital image of the back of the eye (called the fundus), optometrist Amar Phakey was able to identify swelling behind Lysette’s eyes.

Amar immediately referred Lysette for a specialist consultation with the ophthalmologist and an MRI scan. She was then referred to Addenbrookes Hospital in Cambridge for urgent treatment. The specialist doctors confirmed Amar’s diagnosis of a papilloedma, a condition caused by a life-threatening increase of pressure around the brain.

Speedy treatment

Lysette underwent emergency surgery, lasting for more than ten hours, where surgeons found a tumour that had been growing three millimetres a year since she was a child.

Lysette says: ‘The surgery significantly improved my eyesight and no longer experienced blurred vision. I had no idea that I had a tumour, or the severity of my condition, until after my operation. It all happened so quickly.'

'From my own experience I would advise everyone to have regular eye examinations. Never in a million years did I think this would happen to me.’

A papilloedema is the swelling of the optic nerve, which connects the back of the eye with the brain. The swelling is caused by raised intracranial pressure inside the skull.

Amar Phakey, says: ‘We’re extremely relieved that Miss Taylor booked an optician's appointment and we were able to help her.'

Eye examinations can detect a range of health issues, including diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and signs of brain tumours. ‘I'd urge anybody to get regular eye examinations and to book an appointment immediately if they suspect any change with their vision, experience unusual headaches or disturbance with their eyes.’

Your health is viewed through your eyes

Digital retinal photography which detected Lysette's condition uses a specialised microscope with an attached camera. It is designed to take a photograph of the interior surface of the eye, which is the only part of the human body where microcirculation of the blood can be observed directly. Photographs are kept on file, providing a lasting record for comparison during future visits. All digital retinal photography is included in a Specsavers eye examination at no additional cost.

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