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Eye test helps detect rare condition - migraines and joint pain

12 October, 2015
Sight test uncovers rare condition for Tamara Hillyard
Sight test uncovers rare condition for Tamara Hillyard

A teenager has been diagnosed with a condition that affects just 1 in 10,000 people, following a trip to Specsavers in Swadlincote. 

Visiting the store for a routine eye examination, 18-year-old Tamara Hillyard mentioned problems with reading close up and frequent migraines, and on an unrelated note, she had been suffering pains in her joints. Upon examination, optician and store director Pratish Bhundia thought Tamara had Ehlers-Danlos syndrome (EDS) and referred her to her local GP who confirmed the diagnosis.

EDS is an inherited condition which affects the connective tissue and can cause discomfort in the ligaments and joints and alters visual focusing (it affects the ligaments around the lens in the eyes) which explained Tamara’s problems with reading vision. 

‘As soon as Tamara told me about her joint pain and difficulty focusing, I knew the two were linked to Ehlers Danlos syndrome. It’s not a condition you come across every day but I’m glad her doctor could provide a diagnosis so Tamara could start treatment straight away,’ explained Pratish. 

After Tamara’s visit to her GP, on Specsavers’ recommendation, she went to see a specialist at Royal Derby Hospital. Tamara is still undergoing further tests but has been diagnosed with EDS type 3 hypermobility, which causes painful dislocation in her joints. EDS type 3 also causes dizzy spells, severe stretch marks and fatigue.

Tamara said: ‘Gradually, I started noticing problems with focusing. My previous glasses were giving me headaches but if I didn’t wear them, I would feel worse. That’s when I decided to go to Specsavers so they could hopefully explain my headaches, but they managed to help me find a diagnosis, for which I’m grateful.’

There is no cure for those who have EDS, although the condition can be managed. Medication is prescribed and patients are recommended to attend physiotherapy to help tone and strengthen the body and joints. 

Pratish concluded: ‘I am happy that we managed to help explain Tamara’s symptoms and we wish her well with her treatment. Tamara’s story just goes to show the importance of making regular appointments, at least every two years. This will not only help us identify any irregularities but if a problem is spotted, we will be able to diagnose it early and begin treatment as soon as possible.’

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