An aspiring clay pigeon shooter is now championing the importance of sight tests after an optometrist at Specsavers Cowley helped to diagnose her brain tumour.
Philippa Stroud, who lives in Great Milton with her dad John, mum Jackie and younger brother, Jack, had been complaining of headaches and following a particularly severe one, her parents took the 13-year-old to see a doctor. They recommended an eye test so an appointment was made at the store.
Swollen optic nerves
Optometrist Anand Patel carried out the eye examination and could immediately tell that something was wrong because both Philippa’s optic nerves, that carry signals from the eye to the brain, were very dark and swollen. Known as papilloedema, it is a symptom of increased intracranial pressure, a build-up of pressure inside the head that can be caused by tumours or other serious issues.
After a thorough examination, Anand was able to take photos of the back of Philippa’s eyes, using digital retinal photography, to show her parents and compare the images to those of a normal eye to highlight the difference. It needed immediate further investigation, so Philippa was then referred to the eye department at the John Radcliffe Hospital.
‘When we arrived at the hospital, Philippa’s eyes were dilated by the eye department, but we then had to go to A&E for a CT scan,’ said John Stroud. ‘It was a nervous wait for the results which confirmed a brain tumour as the cause of the increase in pressure which would need an operation to remove it. Needless to say, we were pretty shocked and the doctors even told us they were amazed she had even walked in unassisted given how serious the condition was.’
Philippa had two operations totalling 19 hours which successfully removed the tumour before staying in the hospital for 11 days to recover.
‘After two days she wanted to get out of bed,’ continued John. ‘She’s a very determined young lady and after the diagnosis, she just wanted to get on with the operation so that it could be sorted. We’re all so proud of how she’s handled everything and she’s now telling everyone who will listen to make sure they have a sight test. She’s also fundraising for The Brain Tumour Charity, raising more than £4,000 so far.’
‘I’m back at school full time now but had to start off with just a few hours a day as I built up more strength,’ says Philippa. ‘I still have a little bit of double vision but it’s also great to be able to start back shooting again at my club, The Oxford Gun Company.
‘Being able to fundraise for The Brain Tumour Charity has meant something positive has come from what I’ve been through. The Oxford Gun Company is also hosting a charity event on Saturday 29 June to help boost the fundraising total even further.
‘I’m also really keen to raise awareness about the importance of eye tests as without mine, my tumour wouldn’t have been picked up. I’m so grateful to Specsavers in Cowley and their quick action in sending me to hospital.’
‘I wasn’t sure if it was a brain tumour but knew that it was something that needed to be looked at in more detail,’ said Anand. ‘It was helpful to be able to show Philippa’s parents the digital retinal photographs so that they could see what an optic nerve should look like.
‘It’s fantastic to hear that Philippa is on her way to making a full recovery and is now back at school. It’s great that she’s also now encouraging others to get their eyes tested, something we would very much echo. As her case illustrates, a test isn’t just a prescription check, it’s important for the overall health of your eyes too.’
The optometrists at Specsavers Cowley have accreditations in glaucoma and minor eye conditions (MECs). It means the store can offer eye health services to help manage a number of eye conditions allowing more people to be treated in-store rather than having to go to their GP or hospital. Anyone experiencing symptoms such as pain, redness or flashes of light in their vision can access these services.