‘People may not realise how important it is to get their eyes checked regularly.’ says Nicola Delves, aged 25, from Shaw, Oldham.
‘Opticians aren’t just checking whether you can see, they are also looking at the back of the eye and can pick up on a number of serious medical conditions.’
Nicola, a senior clerk at The Royal Oldham Hospital visited Specsavers on Market Square in Royton, Oldham, in August 2014 after experiencing blurry vision in her left eye.
The visit led to the discovery of dangerously high pressure inside her skull. To mark this year’s National Eye Health Week (22-28 September), Nicola is determined to ensure her life-saving Specsavers trip is the cautionary tale to inspire people to get their eyes checked regularly.
When Nicola underwent an eye test over a year ago, it was noted that her eyes looked significantly different when compared to the last time she had visited the opticians and that her left eye was very swollen.
Komrul Hassan, an optician at the store, could see that her left optic nerve was significantly swollen and was concerned that this condition might be symptomatic of something very serious.
Komrul says: ‘Nicola came in for an eye test complaining of blurred vision which had deteriorated over the past few days. I initially thought that her prescription might have changed as it had been two years since her last eye test, but as soon as I started the routine test I could see something wasn’t quite right.
‘After trying a stronger prescription, her vision still wasn't improving. This is highly unusual for someone of Nicola's age, and it was at this point that I began to worry what the reason for her reduced vision could be.
Swollen optic nerve
‘When I looked at the back of Nicola’s eyes I could see immediately that her optic nerve was swollen with haemorrhages. This can indicate a more serious issue, so as a precaution I advised her to seek emergency attention at the hospital.’
Worried about the results of Nicola’s eye examination, Komrul phoned the hospital to explain the symptoms and Nicola was referred for an emergency appointment. His concerns were warranted when it was discovered that Nicola was suffering from intracranial hypertension – a build-up of pressure around the skull.
After this discovery Nicola spent two nights at the hospital while doctors conducted MRI scans and blood tests and performed a procedure called a lumbar puncture which helped to reduce the pressure in her skull by removing excess fluid from the spinal cord.
A year later, Nicola is doing well and is keen to raise awareness of the importance of regular eye tests.
Nicola says: ‘I am still on medication but this is gradually being reduced and I haven’t needed any further lumbar punches.
‘If I had put off my visit to Specsavers any longer it could have been much worse and I am so grateful to Komrul and the team at Royton Specsavers for acting quickly and calmly and phoning the hospital for the emergency appointment.’
Komrul concludes: ‘Thankfully cases such as Nicola’s are rare, however they do highlight the importance of regular sight tests. We recommend everybody, both existing and non-glasses wearers, visits a trusted and experienced optician every two years. Not only will this ensure their eye health remains in optimum condition, it will also help to detect any underlying health problems.’
Nicola backed the National Eye Health Week campaign and did all she could to encourage her family and friends to get their eyes tested regularly at Royton Specsavers.
‘You can’t put a price on your health and I’m so glad I went to Specsavers.’
Specsavers recommends everybody visits a trusted and experienced optician every two years. Not only will this ensure their eye health remains in optimum condition, it will also help to detect any underlying health problems.
Store director Rod Fullalove comments: ‘The entire team here is delighted to hear that Nicola’s recovery is going well. ‘It is cases like this that highlight the importance of regular eye checks and why it’s vital to get any problems or concerns you may have, no matter how minor they may seem, checked out as soon as possible.
‘You only get one pair of eyes so it is important to look after them – if you’ve not had an eye test in the last two years you should make an appointment as soon as possible.’