A Glasgow man has undergone potentially sight-saving treatment after a local optometrist helped identify signs of a serious condition.

A member of staff at Specsavers Glasgow Fort was on hand to help when Thornliebank local Willie Grieve, 60, who suffers from vascular dementia and diabetes, complained of floating shapes in his field of vision to his wife Morag.

Willie was suffering from a diabetic retinal haemorrhage – bleeding from the blood vessels in the retina, inside the eye – which is caused by diabetic retinopathy. Morag, 57, tried calling their local GP but was unable to book an appointment until the following week so decided to call Specsavers for advice.

Morag says: ‘Communicating with Willie and trying to determine how long he had been experiencing the problems with his vision was difficult due to his dementia.

‘My husband lost the sight in his right eye a number of years ago following a brain haemorrhage so I knew I couldn’t take any risks as the symptoms sounded similar. Willie compared the floating objects to a tadpole which immediately caused concern.

‘Losing the vision in his left eye would have left Willie completely blind – I couldn’t take any chances.’

Morag called Specsavers Glasgow Fort, remembering Willie had bought glasses there a few years previously. He was assessed via video call by store director, Catriona Pinkerton, who is trained in working with patients with dementia.

A word from the store director:

Catriona Pinkerton, store director at Specsavers Glasgow Fort, says: ‘I’m so glad Morag got in touch when she did, as early detection and treatment of a diabetic retinal haemorrhage is key for preventing sight loss.

Willie was becoming very distressed which was in turn making Morag extremely anxious so I knew I had to deal with the situation sensitively. Using the dementia training I had undergone, I was able to communicate with Willie calmly and effectively which helped with his prognosis.’

Specsavers stores in Scotland are currently closed to the public for routine in-person appointments, but staff remain available for essential and emergency eyecare only during the Covid-19 outbreak. Cat carried out a remote triage via video call with both Willie and Morag to determine his symptoms.

After investigating the abnormalities, Cat immediately referred Willie to the ophthalmologist at Gartnavel General Hospital with a suspected diabetic retinal haemorrhage. Within an hour, he was admitted to the hospital where he underwent a series of tests which confirmed Cat’s suspicions.

Willie started laser treatment immediately to help disperse the haemorrhage which could potentially have caused blindness if left untreated.

Morag continued: ‘Cat went and above and beyond, securing a hospital appointment there and then which ultimately saved my husband’s sight.

 

‘Willie’s laser treatment is now complete and he’s expected to make a full recovery. Cat’s quick thinking and dementia training mean Willie’s sight is now back to normal – we’re eternally grateful.’

Cat says: ‘I’m really pleased to hear that treatment has gone well for Willie and that he is resting and recovering now.

‘It goes to show just how important it is that optometrists remain available for essential and emergency eye care services. Specsavers staff are classed as key workers because we support people – and other key workers – who couldn’tfunction without our help or would come to harm without our expertise, especially where hospital services and NHS facilities are being prioritised for the fight against Covid-19.’

David Quigley, Chair of Optometry Scotland, says: ‘This is a fantastic example of how community optometrists and hospital ophthalmologists are working closely together during the pandemic to ensure patients get the emergency treatment they need in the safest way possible.

 

‘Primary and secondary eye care teams across Scotland have been collaborating in new ways to save the sight of people just like Mr Grieve, and we are very proud of the difference our colleagues like Catriona are making during the crisis.’

For more information visit specsavers.co.uk or to speak to an expert call your local store or use the Specsavers Facebook Ask The Expert group. Alternatively, those with any sight or hearing concerns can speak to an optician or audiologist via video using Specsavers’ new RemoteCare service.

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