A Sittingbourne man has been diagnosed with a rare form of cancer following a routine eye test at Specsavers Sittingbourne in The Forum. Christopher Cameron was told he had an ocular melanoma in his left eye after an eye test in September last year led to an urgent referral to Maidstone Hospital.
They referred him to Moorfields Eye Hospital in London, after which he was sent to the Clatterbridge Cancer Unit in Liverpool for Proton Beam Therapy in December. The tumour was 3.9mm (within the treatable range) and has since reduced to 1.6mm, so Christopher still has to have regular checks at both Maidstone and Moorfields. Christopher, who has additional needs, was accompanied to his eye test by his parents.
His dad, Alex, said: ‘Christopher was in with the optometrist for rather a long time, so we were getting a bit concerned. Then he came out and spoke to us, and said they had found something that needed further investigation.
‘Before we even got home we had a call from Maidstone Hospital asking us to come in the following day, which we did. After some further tests, the team there sat us down and told us that they had found an ocular melanoma in Christopher’s left eye.’
Rare eye cancer
Eye cancer is rare. Ocular melanoma is the most common type of cancer that starts in the eye.
It can cause blurred vision, flashing lights or shadows and dark patches on the white of the eye, but does not always cause any symptoms – which is why the first sign of a problem can be found at a routine eye test.
Christopher said: ‘I was devastated when I was told I had a tumour. I was scared – you never think it is going to happen to you. I did not notice any signs or symptoms prior to the test, even though I found out that I had actually lost 80% of the vision in my left eye – as my right eye had made up for it.
‘I am really grateful to the optometrist and whole team at Specsavers Sittingbourne for everything they have done for me. If it had not have been picked up when it was, it could have been a lot worse. My advice to others would be to not put off their test.’
Regular eye tests
Jia Chiang Cheong, ophthalmic director in Sittingbourne and Sheerness, said: ‘Christopher’s story shows how important it is to have a regular eye test, even if you are not experiencing any symptoms. ‘Finding a tumour as a result of an eye test is really rare, but – as his story shows – not impossible. We identify a number of different conditions, some of which are not even eye-related, so an eye test should be a central part of keeping an eye on your general health.
‘Unless you have been told to have one more often, you should have an eye test every two years, so if it has been a while – or you are experiencing any symptoms – why not pop in and see us or book one online today.’