A Wantage single mum of four is encouraging others to make sure they see their optician regularly after her routine eye examination picked up a potentially life-threatening condition.

Jacqui Allen (40) hadn’t been experiencing any problems with her sight and so hadn’t anticipated any issues when she went for her bi-annual check-up with the Specsavers store in Wantage.  

However, optometrist and store director Anchal Rana quickly picked up that all wasn’t right with Jacqui’s eyes – noticing that there was a significant swelling around the optic nerves. She referred Jacqui onto the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford and from there she was sent to the eye clinic for further tests, including a CT scan.

Diagnosis

‘When I got a call from the hospital, my test results revealed that I was suffering from intercranial hypertension IH (an elevation of pressure caused by excessive fluid that surrounds the brain) and that I needed to undergo an operation to relieve the pressure.

‘It was a bit of a shock, especially as they wanted me in for 3.30pm that day, but thanks to my parents helping with childcare I managed to juggle things so that I could make it.’

Surgery

Jacqui underwent shunt surgery - a thin, flexible tube was inserted into the fluid-filled space in her skull to divert excess fluid and lower the pressure around the brain – and remained in hospital for several days.

‘I had been suffering from headaches for a while but had put these down to having four children and being a single mum - the reality was that these headaches were actually a symptom of IH,’ added Jacqui.  ‘Fortunately, it was thanks to my routine eye test and Anchal’s referral that the condition was picked up.  If not, I could have lost my sight, or worse still my life.’

Road to recovery

Jacqui has since returned to work and is driving again. ‘I’m incredibly grateful to Specsavers and this experience has certainly opened my eyes to the importance of eye tests – no matter how good your vision is,’ she continued. ‘I’d urge everyone to make sure they and their families see their optician regularly.’

‘Thankfully, stories like Jacqui’s are rare – but they do highlight the value of eye examinations,’ added Anchal.  ‘All our optometrists are highly trained professionals and are adept at spotting conditions like this that might not be evident with a quick eye examination.’

Get your eyes checked

The optometrists at Specsavers Wantage 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.

Specsavers recommends everyone has their eyes tested every two years, or more frequently if recommended by an optician, or if you are experiencing any problems with your vision.

All Wantage store information www.specsavers.co.uk/stores/wantage

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