When Hartlebury resident Hannah Bailey (43) started experiencing some issues with her vision she first thought it might be her new workstation set up, as she’d been working from home due to the lockdown restrictions. What she didn’t appreciate was that these black dots were in fact early warning signs of a potentially sight threatening condition.

When the dots, known as floaters, failed to disappear and a curtain like shadow started appearing over her left eye three days later, Hannah decided it was time to get some advice from her regular opticians, Specsavers in Stourport on Severn.

Reassurance in store

Despite being closed for routine testing during lockdown, the store was still able to offer urgent eye care and so, after a phone consultation where Hannah outlined her symptoms, the optometrist Vicki Fellows asked her to come into the store so she could carry out a full eye examination.

‘I was slightly apprehensive about going into the store during the restrictions, but I was immediately reassured when I got there as the team were incredibly professional and practiced excellent safety measures,’ commented Hannah. ‘When Vicki looked at the back of my eye, she quickly realised that all wasn’t as it should be and suspected a retinal tear.  It was all a bit of a shock, I had to call my husband to come and drive me to Kidderminster Hospital right away.’

The retina is the light-sensitive layer of tissue that lines the back of your eye. It’s responsible for receiving light and translating it into electrical signals to send to the brain, where it creates the images we see.

Retinal tear confirmed

Following further tests at Kidderminster, the diagnosis of a retinal tear was confirmed and that it had in fact started to detach. Hannah was advised that she needed urgent surgery otherwise she risked losing her sight.  Calls were made to Worcester and Birmingham Hospitals to see if they could fit her in but there was no space. So, after being told by the doctor to do as little as possible in the meantime, a couple of days later Hannah went back to Kidderminster Hospital where they carried out the operation to repair the tear under local anaesthetic. This involved a gas bubble being inserted into her eye. 

‘Although I could sense what was happening there was no feeling or pain and it was over relatively quickly,’ added Hannah. 

Hannah is now home recuperating and using eye drops every couple of hours. Her two-week post op check-up appointment went well, and the doctor was pleased with how the surgery went. ‘I’m just so grateful to the team at Specsavers and the staff at the hospital for their wonderful care and attention,’ she continued.  ‘The nurse at the hospital told me that I was very lucky that the tear had been picked up when it was as I could have easily lost the sight in that eye. I’m very short sighted which can mean you’re at greater risk of retinal tears, something I’ve only found out since this all happened.’

Prioritise your eye health

Vicki added, ‘We are delighted to hear that the surgery went well, and that Hannah is on the mend.  Stories like this are usually quite rare, but we’ve seen a few cases of urgent eye cases here at Stourport and across our sister stores in Droitwich and Kidderminster during the lockdown period.  Hopefully, now our stores are open, people will feel even more confident to come forward and book to see their optician if they are experiencing any issues or have noticed a change in their vision.

‘We also want to encourage anyone who has missed their usual sight or hearing test during lockdown to book an appointment as soon as possible, so our team can return to providing the highest levels of care.’

To help manage social distancing, the store is encouraging customers to book an appointment in advance by phone T: 01299 877 999 or online.  

New hygiene and personal protection measures include restrictions on the number of customers allowed in the store at any one time, strict social distancing rules and, where possible, card instead of cash payments. 

In line with NHS guidance, Specsavers colleagues will use personal protective equipment (PPE) and all testing equipment and frames will be thoroughly sanitised after each use. 

All Stourport-on-Severn store information 

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