Optician spots melanoma during sight test
A trip to Specsavers in Burnham-on-Sea lead to a cancer diagnosis for local man Michael Beaumont.
The Highbridge resident (69) has had a lazy left eye since a young age which has meant his vision has always been poor. One Sunday though, his wife noticed that his eye was very bloodshot so he went to the store to see if they could fit him in for an appointment.
Although it was a full clinic, optometrist Rama Venkat was able to squeeze Mr Beaumont in. During the eye examination he noticed a raised, grey area on the retina of his eye (the surface is usually flat) and immediately knew something was wrong.
‘I suspected it was a melanoma but didn’t want to alarm Mr Beaumont,’ said Rama. ‘I explained that I’d found an elevated area on his eye and needed to refer him to Musgrove Park Hospital in Taunton for further investigation. Luckily the eye department was able to see him quickly and confirmed that it was in fact Chorodial Melanoma.’
Mr Beaumont was then advised that he needed to be treated at one of just three units in the UK that specialise in eye cancer. At Liverpool Hospital he was put under general anaesthetic and a radioactive plaque was inserted behind his eye. They also took a biopsy of the tumour which was analysed to determine how long the plaque should stay in for.
‘It was a little bit uncomfortable while it was in there but it was taken out after four days,’ said Mr Beaumont. ‘The treatment was a complete success and I’m now fully recovered but the doctor at Musgrove Park told me that if it had been left even two months longer, I would have lost my eye. I now have to go for checkups at both Liverpool and Musgrove Park Hospitals twice a year for the rest of my life but that’s a small price to pay.
Importance of eye examinations
‘I’m so grateful to Rama for fitting me in at such short notice and the speed at which he referred me to hospital. As it turned out, my blood shot eye wasn’t anything related to the tumour in the end but it shows that if you notice any changes in your eyes or your vision, it’s important to get it checked.’
‘We’re just pleased that Mr Beaumont has made a full recovery. We recommend a sight test at least every two years or as soon as you notice any changes in your eyes or vision. As this case shows, if a problem is picked up, prompt treatment can make all the difference,’ concluded Rama.