A ROUTINE visit to Specsavers proved to be sight-saving – and potentially life-saving- for local Acocks Green woman, Averil Hemming.

Averil (74), visited Acocks Green Specsavers for a routine sight test in May, but when optometrist Ramiz Ahmed conducted the examination, he noticed the optic nerves showed swelling and thickening – signs of Ischemic Optic Neuropathy (ION) - also referred to as a stroke of the optic nerve. Averil had been suffering from some blurred vision, but didn’t think anything of it.

A word from the store optician

The condition limits circulation to the arteries which supply the optic nerve, often due to a temporary fall in blood pressure. On examination, Ramiz said: ‘There was obvious swelling at the back of the eye, causing pressure on the nerve, and the blood vessels appeared thickened and angry. This was a clear sign that Ms Hemming needed a referral to hospital – fast.’

ION has two forms – one sight-threatening, one life-threatening. Thankfully, Averil had the former but, without immediate treatment, it would have likely resulted in permanent loss of vision. Ramiz immediately referred her to the ophthalmology department at Birmingham City Hospital where, thanks to the early diagnosis, she was able to receive treatment that saved the sight in her left eye.

Unfortunately, Averil has suffered some minor damage to her vision, but this would have been much worse had she not gone into Specsavers for a routine eye test.

A word from Averil

‘It had been 12 months since my last sight test, but I wasn’t expecting anything out of the ordinary, and other than some mild blurred vision, I hadn’t noticed anything wrong. I was really shocked when Ramiz told me what he’d found’ said Averil.

ION is a relatively unknown condition, and predominantly affects people of middle age and older. Often it is symptomless but, when there are symptoms, such as mild blurred vision, there isn’t usually any pain associated with it. This can lead patients to ignore the early signs and go about their business.

‘With this condition,’ said Ramiz, ‘such a delay could be disastrous as the longer the condition remains untreated, the greater the chance of permanent damage. Also, if the condition is the worse of the two, and is life-threatening, a delay of even two or three days could prove fatal. It really is that serious.’

Averil is now symptom free, and the lasting impact on her vision is not severe. ‘I thank my lucky stars that I went to Specsavers and the care I received from Ramiz and the team was simply outstanding. I cannot stress enough how important regular eye checks are – even if you think there’s nothing wrong.’

Regular sight tests 

Opticians recommend that your sight should be tested at least every two years, and if you are in any doubt about anything relating to your eyes, get down to your nearest Specsavers and let the highly trained staff do their job and put your mind at rest.

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