An Arbroath woman was shocked to discover that the cause of her failing eyesight was a pituitary tumour after visiting Dundee’s ophthalmic director Kenny Johnston.
Loss of vision
Lorna Hayes (48) visited her local Specsavers store expecting to be told that she needed a stronger lens prescription after suffering from headaches and loss of vision in one eye.
Lorna said: ‘I started to get dull headaches – they wouldn’t last very long but began to happen frequently throughout the course of a day. I’d had the headaches for a couple of months when the sight in my right eye worsened.
‘It was almost like there was a white film over my eye. As well as feeling uncomfortable, it became very scary as I struggled to even cross the road on my own.
I was constantly bumping into things, especially in shops. I already wore glasses and assumed that a stronger prescription would cure the headaches and enable me to see clearly again.’
Lorna booked an appointment at her local opticians where ophthalmic director Kenny Johnston, who works across both the Arbroath and Dundee stores, conducted a routine eye examination to investigate her symptoms.
Kenny said: ‘During Lorna’s eye examination, it became apparent that her prescription hadn’t changed – just her ability to see through the eye.
‘I conducted a range of standard tests including checking the visions and assessing the back of the eyes, and additionally I performed an automated visual fields assessment and colour vision assessment.
‘I knew something was definitely amiss and my initial thought was that the optic nerve may have been inflamed. I referred Lorna to eye specialists at Ninewells Hospital immediately.’
After several tests and MRI scans, Lorna was diagnosed with a benign brain tumour at the back of her optic nerve.
Lorna continued: ‘At the start of July I had the tumour removed during a six-hour operation at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary.
‘Thankfully the tumour wasn’t life-threatening but it was still a frightening time for my family and I.
‘I spent 12 days in hospital and I’ve been staying with my daughter since I was discharged as I still get tired and out of breath easily. Within days of the operation, once I started to feel less groggy, I noticed a huge difference in my eyesight.
‘I’d like to thank the staff at Specsavers and Kenny in particular for acting so fast and referring me straight away. I’d never dreamed that my sight loss was caused by a brain tumour.’
Six weeks after the operation, Lorna went back to Specsavers in Arbroath for a follow-up eye check.
Kenny added: ‘It was amazing to see the difference in Lorna following her operation. Not only was her eyesight back to normal, the difference in her personality was astonishing. She looked so much happier and confident which just went to show how much of an impact the tumour was having on her life.
‘Cases like Lorna’s are very rare – since opening in Arbroath 12 years ago, we’ve only come across three or four patients that have gone on to be diagnosed with a brain tumour following an eye test.
‘Thankfully, most of the customers we see with headaches and symptoms similar to Lorna’s are usually pretty routine problems and easily treated.
‘Nevertheless, it’s extremely important to act quickly if you experience any symptoms such as headaches or a reduction or loss of vision. If Lorna hadn’t booked an appointment with us, it’s likely her tumour would have continued to grow, putting her in danger of losing her sight completely.’
Vital part of your overall health routine
Jamie Buchan, store director at Specsavers in Dundee and Arbroath, said: ‘Lorna’s diagnosis highlights just how important regular eye examinations can be – we typically recommend getting your eyes checked every two years for those aged four upwards.
‘With National Eye Health Week just passed on 21 to 27 September, it is the perfect time to take stock and ensure you are taking good care of your eye health.
‘Eye exams should be an important part of everyone’s overall health routine, no matter their age. Some people wait until they experience symptoms to see an optometrist but shouldn't because many eye problems and other underlying health conditions can be silent - meaning they have no symptoms.
'I would encourage everyone who has never had an eye exam before to come and have one. For some reason we are programmed from an early age to go to the dentist every six months but the same routine care doesn't seem to be the case for many people of one of their primary senses – eyesight. An eye exam is an essential health check and not about the need for glasses.
‘We’re very thankful that our routine eye test helped to identify the tumour and encouraged Lorna to seek treatment.’