Young mother diagnosed with rare condition
15 May, 2014
L-R Optometrist Teresa Hughes with Emma James
A mother of two is praising Specsavers Bridgnorth for its help in diagnosing a rare autoimmune disorder.
When Emma James, (34) was admitted to hospital in 2009 after suffering a miscarriage, she began to notice severe deterioration in her vision. Doctors initially suspected her symptoms were due to low iron levels as a result of the miscarriage. However, it was during a routine eye examination at Specsavers that indicated Emma was suffering from a far more serious condition.
Optometrist Martin Skehan, was immediately concerned after hearing Emma describe her symptoms. Carrying out a full eye examination, he discovered that Emma had lost peripheral vision in both of her eyes and had swelling on the optic nerve. She was referred to see her GP, who broke the news that the cause could be the result of either a stroke or a brain tumour.
After visiting A&E at The Princess Royal Hospital in Telford for further tests, doctors were unable to give Emma a formal diagnosis or explanation. She was, therefore, referred to see a neurologist at her local hospital in Bridgnorth, where she underwent an MRI scan. However, the results were inconclusive.
After further problems including loss of balance and cloudy vision, Emma decided to return to Specsavers, where she was seen by optometrist Teresa Hughes, who spotted a cataract developing in Emma’s left eye. Two months later Emma underwent surgery to remove the cataract, and although the surgery was a success, she was still experiencing swirling floaters in her vision.
It was at this point her neurologist sent copies of her MRI scans to a specialist consultant at Stoke Hospital, who found evidence that Emma had suffered from a stroke in the optical lobe. She was diagnosed with the rare autoimmune disorder, Hughes Syndrome, a condition which causes an increased risk of blood clots.
It was recognised that Emma’s condition was affecting her brain and, as a result, was specifically affecting her vision and placentas. Now on medication to help stabilise her condition, Emma said: ‘It has been a long journey in getting a diagnosis but thanks to the staff and optometrists at Specsavers Bridgnorth and hospital staff my vision was saved and hopefully I will not now develop dementia due to the condition.
‘Apart from ensuring people go for regular sight tests, I also believe all pregnant women should be tested for Hughes Syndrome, as it’s one of the most common causes of strokes in young people and repetitive miscarriages.’
Mrs Hughes said: ‘Emma’s case, although rare and complex, highlights the importance of regular eye examinations. We advise all our customers to get their eyes tested every two years, unless they’re experiencing any problems, in which case they should come in sooner.’