Frequent headaches caused an Ashby wedding photographer to make an appointment at Specsavers in the town which revealed a build-up of pressure on her brain.
Back in February before lockdown, Meghan Hughes, 27, went to see her GP after suffering from headaches and a loss of vision when she stood up too quickly or made a sudden movement. Her doctor recommended she made an appointment to get her eyes tested so when Meghan’s dad said he’d lost his glasses and was going into Specsavers on Market Street, she went along with him.
Swollen optic nerves
Optometrist Kuljinder Bains carried out the eye examination and used digital retinal photography to take photos of the backs of Meghan’s eyes. When asked to read the rows of letters during the test, even the largest were appearing blurred, so Kuljinder took a closer look at the back of the eye and at the digital images.
‘I could clearly see that Meghan’s disc margins were blurred in both eyes which I knew was a result of swollen optic nerves,’ said Kuljinder. ‘I made an immediate referral to hospital for further tests and Meghan was seen by the ophthalmology department at Derby Hospital the same day.’
‘I assumed that the problems with my vision and the headaches just meant my prescription had changed so it was a shock when Kully said I needed to go to the hospital,’ said Meghan. ‘He was very calm though which I appreciated. At Royal Derby Hospital I had every test on my eyes that you can imagine and following an MRI, it was confirmed that the fluid level in my brain was raised which was pressing on my optic nerves.’
This raised pressure meant a diagnosis of Idiopathic Intracranial Hypertension (IIH) and it needed to be relieved to ensure Meghan’s symptoms didn’t worsen. If left untreated, there is also a risk of losing your sight and in some cases it can even be life-threatening.
‘Once the diagnosis was confirmed, I was then seen by a neurologist who said that I needed to have a lumbar puncture. While this helps my symptoms in the short term, the headaches and vision problems eventually return which has meant I’ve had four further procedures with the last carried out in March.
‘I’ve now moved to Leicester Royal Infirmary where they are trying the medication route. This is under review and I have another appointment in October where they might decide to try different medication if they feel it’s not working. There is an option to have a shunt fitted which would mean the fluid would constantly be drained, but that involves surgery so would only be considered further down the line.
‘While the condition is difficult to manage and has impacted my life, I’m grateful to Specsavers for their prompt action in making sure I was seen at the hospital. If it had been left I might have lost my sight so even though I will likely have to live with the symptoms for life, I’m just pleased I’ve been diagnosed.’
‘We’re going to be seeing Meghan regularly as recommended by her consultant,’ said Kuljinder. ‘Her experience demonstrates how important it is to not only see an optician if you notice any changes to your vision but also to have a regular eye test every two years. It’s more than just a prescription check and can help detect a range of conditions.’