A Bridgend woman is thanking her optician after signs of a serious health condition were picked up during a sight test.

No previous concern

Irene Thomas, 65, visited her local Specsavers after experiencing chronic headaches, visual disturbances and feeling fatigued. Her visit came just three months after her routine sight test at Specsavers, at which time there was no concern about the health of her eyes.

The mother-of-two was examined by Tracey Seary, on two separate occasions following her symptoms, who referred her to the Princess of Wales Hospital.

Teams in the eye clinic and neurology department assessed Irene and diagnosed her with giant cell arteritus (GCA), a condition in which arteries and veins, usually behind the head and neck, become inflamed.

Symptoms can include sudden headaches, sensitivity of the scalp as well as audio and visual disturbances, and without prompt treatment it can cause permanent vision loss. 

‘Staff at Specsavers were brilliant’

Irene said: ‘It was a terrifying experience that lasted on and off for a number of months before the condition was diagnosed. When my eyes were open I would feel fine, but as soon as I shut my eyes the images were very intense and disorientating, it was like I was constantly looking into a lava lamp.

‘The staff at Specsavers were brilliant and so patient with me. I feel very fortunate that the health of my eyes hasn’t been affected by the condition and that’s in part thanks to the prompt advice and referral I was given by Tracey and the team.’

Store director, Stuart Buckmaster, said: ‘Irene’s story is another example of why people should look after their eyes and visit their optician for an eye test every two years, or more frequently if they experience changes in their vision.’

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