Seventy-three-year-old Airdrie resident Richard Kerr is thankful for the emergency eye care provision at his local Specsavers, which resulted in a hospital referral and sight-saving surgery for a detached retina.

Specsavers stores, in line with government guidelines, have suspended routine testing for the foreseeable future but emergency and essential eye care is still available to those in need.

Richard Kerr, who worked in the building trade before retirement, called his local GP surgery after experiencing problems with the vision in his right eye. He was referred to Specsavers Airdrie where he spoke with optometrist Laura Mullett over the phone, but she felt a face-to-face appointment was essential.

Appointment only system

Laura Mullett, Store director for Specsavers Airdrie, said: ‘We currently have a closed-door and appointment only system in operation at Specsavers, but I knew immediately Richard required a consultation.

‘We carried out Richard’s examination within the larger retail space in the store which enabled us to carry out a full history examination in full confidentiality while complying with social distancing guidelines.

‘I dilated Richard’s pupils so I could get a good view on the fundus camera and then used OCT (an optical coherence tomography scan) to take a 3D scan of the eye. It was possible to make the diagnosis of a retinal detachment from the high-quality photos which helped keep the time in the confined consultation room to a minimum.

‘I explained the situation to Mr Kerr and that he needed urgent secondary care.

‘I called University Hospital Hairmyres and they advised to send him immediately. He was seen by an ophthalmologist that afternoon and they confirmed the retinal detachment. He was then transferred to Gartnavel Hospital in Glasgow where he had surgery the following day.

‘The surgery was a success and I’m delighted to say Mr Kerr returned home the same day.’

Thanks to Specsavers

Richard Kerr, said: ‘I thought it was conjunctivitis so I was surprised to hear that it was a retinal detachment. I can’t thank Laura at Specsavers enough for her prompt and accurate response; she was spot on with her diagnosis and really helped speed the treatment process along by calling the hospital with a referral.

‘If left untreated, I could have permanently lost the sight in my right eye, but thankfully the surgery was a success and I now have up to six weeks of recovery. There’s to be no heavy lifting for me in that time which includes the lawnmower – my grass will desperately need cut at the end of the six weeks.’

Laura added: ‘We realise the importance of the role that we play in our community at this time and we will continue to be there for our patients and our local community the best way we can.

‘Anyone who has symptoms or concerns with their eyesight can contact us for advice rather than their GP or A&E which helps alleviate the strain on the NHS. This service is open to everyone, not just patients who are already registered with us.’

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