‘I completely understand why people are squeamish about their eyes, so was I, but if I hadn’t picked up the courage to get a check, I would have lost my sight’ admitted Elizabeth Vidler.

Elizabeth was diagnosed with a potentially sight-threatening detached retina by opticians at Crewe Specsavers during a routine eye test. She made a spur-of-the-moment decision to flag what she thought was an occasional discomfort: a choice that saved her vision.

Life-changing experience
Now fully recovered four years later, 65-year-old Elizabeth who lives in Hough, has helped to raise awareness of the importance of regular eye tests in preventing people from needlessly losing their sight during National Eye Health Week.

Elizabeth shared her story as Specsavers unveiled its new fundraising partnership with Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB), a campaign also committed to emphasising the need for greater awareness about UK eye health and in promoting prevention through education.

Elizabeth, who is retired and ‘a relative newcomer’ to Hough having lived there for 30 years with husband Paul, admits that although she was experiencing strange sensations in her right eye at night from time to time, she wrote off signs of any eye health issues as simply ‘getting older’. She added that having known her father had been diagnosed with glaucoma, she simply assumed she was seeing signs of the same condition.

Look for the signs
‘When I woke up in the night, I would occasionally notice there was a big circle on the bridge of my nose, like a golf ball. But it disappeared in the day time and I had no headaches or blurry vision in the day so I admit I didn’t take action immediately.

‘I convinced myself I actually had glaucoma, so when I popped into Crewe Specsavers, was diagnosed and then immediately referred to Leighton Hospital and, from there, a specialist in Liverpool, it was a particularly worrying experience.

‘It turned out the ‘golf ball’ I thought I saw in my left eye was actually in my right and the sign that the retina had begun to detach. Three operations later, I’m now doing ok, but if the issue went undetected I would have lost my sight.’

National Eye Health Week
The Specsavers Crewe store and team were decked out in the colours of the RNIB as part of the National Eye Health Week campaign to encourage awareness of the importance of regular eye tests, a message Elizabeth supports wholeheartedly:

‘People ought to know how important it is to have regular eye tests even if you don’t think you have any symptoms. Don’t wait until you can’t read or it becomes a problem. The risks are just too big. I know people are squeamish about eyes but you can’t be. You only get one pair, after all.’

Preventable sight loss

Store director, Michael Elleray voiced his concerns: ‘It’s astonishing that so many people are needlessly living with or at risk of sight loss in the UK today. Half of all sight loss cases are preventable – and a simple eye test can be the first step in prevention.

‘Our mission together with RNIB is to transform the nation’s eye health through education, awareness and action; we want to reverse these worrying eye health trends that are putting unnecessary pressure on the health service and placing a massive burden on the public purse.

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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