The team at Specsavers in Caterham is delighted to announce its new look store. 

Onhand to help them officially launch the spec-tacular refreshed store was Nicola Swinden with her son Jack who had a life threatening brain condition diagnosed just before his birthday last year following a sight test.

Eye tests are so important

Jack Reilly – who was eight years old at the time - was seen by optometrist, Trishna Sharma. Trishna asked Jack and his mum if he had been experiencing any symptoms that were a concern. There were no issues that had alerted Nicola to attend her local Specsavers: she had just booked her son in for a regular sight test.

Trishna looked into Jack’s eyes using an ophthalmoscope – a hand held piece of equipment that allows an optometrist to see inside the eye. At this point, Trishna spotted swelling of the optic disc, a condition known as papilloedema.

The condition explained

Papilloedema can be life threatening or lead to brain damage and blindness. To confirm the diagnosis, retinal images were taken of Jack’s eyes using digital retinal photography. This innovative technology enabled Trishna to closely examine the structure of the eye, looking closely at Jack’s central and peripheral retina, optic disc and macula.

Trishna concluded that the swelling of the optic disc could be down to raised pressure inside his skull, which in turn can be caused by a possible brain tumour. The condition is an ocular emergency and Trishna called the local eye department at East Surrey Hospital to ensure an urgent referral for Jack.

A word from Jack's mum

'Any parent will understand the shock and worry we experienced following Trishna’s assessment but we had to put on our brave faces and be happy for Jack to ensure he enjoyed his birthday weekend. Those two days were a blur for us.'

'I am indebted to Trishna for her prompt action. Before Jack’s eye test, I admit that I was completely unaware that an optometrist looked at the overall health of the eye and could spot such serious conditions. I have been telling all my friends to make the family’s eye health a top priority in 2018 and get those appointments booked in every two years.'

Jack attended his hospital appointment where the doctors found raised pressure inside his skull due to swelling in the brain caused by a hormone imbalance. The doctors were surprised there was no brain damage but Trishna is relieved it was caught in time before anything more serious occurred. 

A word from optometrist, Trishna

'This was a very rare case – so much so that the doctors involved in his treatment are currently writing a paper for publication about his condition. Signs of optic nerve swelling are something every optometrist dreads, especially in a child, as it is a definitive sign that there is a raised pressure in the fluid around the brain.

'There can be a number of causes including a brain tumour or a bleed, sometimes no cause can be identified. Whatever the cause, the course of action is an emergency referral to a hospital. We were all very relieved to hear that this was caught in time and that Jack’s condition is being managed with the right medication.'

'When conducting an eye examination, you are looking at the complete health of the eye. Many people are not aware that our eyes can tell us a lot of vital information about our health and wellbeing, as demonstrated in Jack’s case. We would encourage people to make a visit to Specsavers part of their healthcare routine, in the same way you would regularly visit the dentist. It can, in rare cases, potentially save a life.'

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