A local sixth form student is raising awareness after a routine eye test at her local Specsavers in Northampton led to the life-saving treatment of her brain tumour.

Spotting the problem

Lauren Whittington, 17, had been experiencing migraines for several months, which neither a specialist nor her regular opticians could diagnose. It was only during a visit to the Specsavers store on Abington Street with her mum that an anomaly was picked up behind her eye.

‘As part of our regular eye tests, we take a digital image of the back of the eye using our state-of-the-art Fundus cameras,’ said Specsavers optometrist Nicole Barber. ‘I could see that there was a build up of pressure behind Lauren’s eye, which immediately rang alarm bells.’

A quick referral

Nicole referred Lauren directly to Northampton A&E for a closer inspection, where they took an ultrasound of her eyes and confirmed that something was causing the build-up but were unable to see what it was. Lauren was then sent for an MRI scan at the Nottingham University Hospital Eye Clinic, where they delivered the news that it was most probably a brain tumour.

“I’m glad my mum was with me,’ remembered Lauren. ‘We went from having our eyes tested to me being admitted to Nottingham University hospital. Being told I had a tumour growing in the back of my brain was frightening, I am just glad that it was diagnosed so quickly.’

Within a few days, Lauren was given an operation to remove the tumour at Nottingham Hospital, which thankfully proved successful.

Getting back to normality

After several months away from her studies, she returned to school in September to study Psychology, Business Studies and History at A-Level.

‘The last couple of months have been the scariest in my life,’ continued Lauren. ‘I am glad to be back at school so that I can work towards completing my education. I plan to take a gap year after my A-levels so that I am fully recovered from my operation before I go to university, where I hope to continue studying psychology.’

‘We’re so relieved that Lauren’s case was treated so successfully and she is now well on the way to a full recovery,’ said Specsavers Northampton store director, Marinos Constantinides.

‘All too often, people’s symptoms are misdiagnosed and all it takes is a simple sight test to reveal a deeper problem. This just highlights the vital importance of having regular eye tests with highly trained opticians and specialist equipment. We recommend that as a minimum, you should have your eyes checked every two years. These not only provide a prescription check, but also help us monitor general eye health to track any changes and identify problems as quickly as possible.'

Raising awareness

‘We have recently announced our partnership with the Royal National Institute for Blind People (RNIB) ahead of National Eye Health Week,' revealed Marinos. 'Our mission, together with RNIB, is to transform the nation’s eye health through education, awareness and action; we want to reverse the worrying eye health trends that are putting unnecessary pressure on the health service and placing a massive burden on the public purse.

‘The partnership comes at an exciting time, with recent findings from RNIB and Specsavers’ State of the Nation: Eye Health Report 2016 which emphasises the need for greater awareness about eye health in the UK and in promoting prevention through education.’

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