An Arnold resident is thankful for the diligence of her optician, after an eye test picked up on the early stages of a sight-threatening condition which, without treatment, could have resulted in permanent vision loss.

Helen Clarkstone, aged 69, noticed a dark spot in her vision on a Saturday afternoon. ‘It was like there was a black shadow covering half of my eye that didn’t go away, even when I blinked. I had a busy weekend, as we were due to leave for holiday on Monday, so didn’t do anything about it right away.’

Emergency appointment

Monday morning came around with no improvement to Helen’s vision, but as luck would have it she was due to pick up her husband’s hearing aids from the Specsavers store in Arnold so asked if she could have an emergency eye examination, and was seen for an eye test with an optometrist.

‘Using the technology we have in store, it was clear that something was very wrong with Helen’s eyes,’ said Vineet Nehra, optometry store director. ‘There were indications of a retinal detachment, so we knew Helen needed an emergency referral to hospital. She was made an appointment on the day, ensuring she was seen as soon as possible.’

Helen continued: ‘I was very worried – I realised it was serious as I was given a letter from the optometrist to take to the hospital, but the team at Specsavers were very reassuring. I’m so grateful to them for acting so fast to get me seen at the hospital.’

After her referral, Helen underwent an operation at the Queen’s Medical centre to help repair the detached retina. Following the operation, she had to spend 10 days lying on her side for 40 minutes of every hour as part of the recovery process.

Recovering well 

Helen is recovering well and her vision, despite being a little blurry after the surgery, is getting better each day and her prognosis is good.

Helen said: ‘I was due to go on holiday to Spain and if I hadn’t been in Specsavers for my husband’s hearing aids, I probably would have waited until I got back to check it out. I’m certainly glad I didn’t! My husband and I are very grateful to the team at Specsavers – for both the fantastic hearing service and the care and quick referral of the optometry team.’

Vineet explained: ‘Helen’s case highlights the importance of getting your eyes checked regularly, especially if you notice any changes to your vision. The earlier we can identify problems and seek correct treatment, the better the outcome. I’d like to encourage everyone to make an appointment, even if you’re not concerned about anything. It could be sight-saving.’

Research published by Specsavers and charity the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB), shows one in five people will live with sight loss in their lifetime despite at least half of all cases being avoidable. The statistics also show that 300 people in the UK start living with sight loss every day.

The optometrists at Specsavers Arnold 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.

All Arnold store information