Community mental health nurse, Wendi Bristow, aged 44, has been a glasses wearer since she was 7 years old so was no stranger to an eye examination, but she never thought it would save her life.
Importance of regular eye tests
Optometrist, Andrew Attardo had only been working at the store for five days when he saw Wendi on 31 October 2015 for her regular eye examination.
Andrew said: ‘Everything in Wendi’s initial eye examination appeared normal. It was not until I carried out a visual field test using the store’s Humphrey Visual Field Analyser, that I saw a scattered area of focal loss in each eye. On the second attempt of this test it revealed a more distinct right hemianopia or blindness in her right field of vision.’
Store director, Jo McLean says: ‘Andrew referred Wendi via her GP to a neuro-ophthalmologist for further investigation to rule out a possible lesion pressing against her right optic nerve. As it turned out Andrew’s suspicions were correct and in January 2016 Wendi was diagnosed with a brain tumour following an MRI scan.’
Wendi said: ‘It was all very surreal. Working in the NHS I knew not to panic and instead made it my job to find out more and to get to grips with what I was facing.
‘A week before the operation I remember we went to a wedding and everyone was in tears. It was like they were all saying goodbye!’
Light at the end of the tunnel
On 9 March 2016, Wendi was admitted to Derriford Hospital in Plymouth and the brain tumour, the size of a golf ball, just above her right eye was successfully removed by a skilled surgeon.
Wendi said: ‘I firmly believe that I’m here telling my story because of that referral by Andrew in Specsavers in October last year so if there is one piece of advice I can offer, that’s for everyone to have an eye examination at least once every two years. It could save your life.’
Specsavers recommend that everyone has an eye examination at least once every two years. The visual field test is most common for anyone with a family history of conditions such as glaucoma, cataracts and diabetes.