A dental nurse from Airdrie has praised her local opticians for spotting a sight-threatening condition which was causing her crippling headaches and double vision.

Dawn Espie, 24, was experiencing headaches for almost three weeks which became so severe she chose to wear a neck brace to help support her head and restrict movement.

Dawn visited Specsavers on Graham Street after several trips to accident and emergency failed to solve the problem.

Urgent action was required

Optician Andrew McGonagle examined Dawn and spotted severe swelling on the optic nerve head at the back of both eyes, with haemorrhaging due to the pressure. This was caused by a build up of pressure around the brain. The optic nerve is a delicate cable at the back of the eye that is responsible for transmitting information from the eye to the brain.

Urgent action was required and Dawn was referred to Monklands District General Hospital for immediate care. Dawn was given morphine to ease the pain and was treated for intracranial hypertension with a procedure called a lumbar puncture, which relieves pressure from the brain.

Dawn said: ‘I woke up one morning with a headache and didn’t think much of it, but when it persisted for several days I visited my local doctors. I was diagnosed with a migraine and given pain killers however the symptoms developed to the point of crippling pain with double vision - I could hardly hold my head up.

‘I went to A&E twice in the space of four days and with no further diagnosis, my mum suggested getting my eyes tested.

‘I was so grateful that Specsavers accommodated an emergency appointment and that they were able to identify the problem. Thankfully I was treated in time and have no lasting damage to my eyesight.

‘Eye tests are free in Scotland so there is no reason why people shouldn’t be visiting their local optician for regular checks.’

Free and expert eyecare advice available on the high street

Andrew McGonagle, store director at Specsavers Airdrie, said: ‘Dawn made the right decision to come into store and have her eyes checked. It allowed us to identify the swelling and refer her quickly. If left untreated, Dawn could have had severe permanent damage to her sight as well as increasingly crippling headaches.

‘Eyes are complex organs but it’s easy to neglect them because they rarely hurt when there’s a problem. Some people are unaware of the free and expert eyecare advice that is available on their local high street.

‘Your local opticians should be the first port of call for eye conditions or troubling symptoms and I would encourage everyone to come to us in the first instance rather than visit the GP or A&E.

‘Dawn’s diagnosis is a reminder of just how important it is to seek a professional opinion if you experience anything unusual – don’t ignore warning signs.

‘And even if you don’t have any symptoms that are out-of-the-ordinary, don’t forget to go for regular eye examinations as they are an important health check which should be a part of everyone’s overall health routine.’

Dawn was treated with five lumbar punctures and is still on some medication but experienced no lasting effects to her vision, and no longer suffers from severe headaches. She has since returned to work at Village Dental Surgery in Cumbernauld.

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