Chippenham resident Simon Smith is singing the praises of Specsavers in the town after he was diagnosed with a rare tumour following an eye examination at the store.

Life-saving decision

Fifty-one-year-old Simon had been experiencing deterioration in his vision but thought perhaps he just needed a new prescription for his reading glasses. However, his vision continued to go downhill until he was having episodes of double vision, so he knew he needed to make an appointment at the opticians. 

On arrival at the store he was greeted at the reception desk and described his symptoms. They were fully booked but realising Mr Smith needed to be seen quickly, the member of staff asked optometrist Niki James if she would see him during her lunch break. 

Damaged optic nerve

‘I carried out the sight test during which time, Mr Smith presented a number of symptoms that made me realise something was wrong,’ said Niki. ‘I noticed he had monocular reduction in vision meaning one eye was very blurry, impaired colour vision, his pupils weren’t reacting and he had pain when he moved his eyes to look around. This was all a sign that there was damage to the optic nerve so I knew he needed to be seen by a specialist in hospital.’

Niki immediately made the referral and Mr Smith was seen later that afternoon at the Royal United Hospital (RUH) in Bath. He was booked for an urgent MRI which revealed a tumour behind his eye. 

‘I then had to go to Southmead Hospital in Bristol for a biopsy which, due to its location, was done by going up through my nose,’ said Mr Smith. ‘The doctor said it was a very unusual type of tumour and he had never seen anything like it before. It had been putting pressure on my optic nerve which is why I had been experiencing problems with my vision. The biopsy result confirmed it was malignant and I had Non Hodgkins Type B Lymphoma.’

The next week, Mr Smith was back at the RUH to start a programme of six three week sessions of chemotherapy and following six months of treatment, after a final MRI and CT scan, was recently given the all clear. 

Successful treatment 

‘It was obviously a huge shock when I was given the diagnosis but I’m just hugely relieved it was picked up and diagnosed so quickly so that I could begin treatment,’ added Mr Smith. ‘Niki was calm throughout the eye examination and while it was clear something was wrong, was reassuring which I greatly appreciated. The treatment was tough and I had to take 50 tablets a day to combat the side effects but ultimately it was successful and I couldn’t be more pleased. 

‘My hearing is now half what it used to be and I feel like I have a permanent cold but I’m hopeful this will settle down and it’s a small price to pay. I’d like to thank Specsavers for their prompt action and urge people to be alert to any changes in their vision and make an appointment if they think something might be wrong.’

‘A sight test should form part of an overall health check and be carried out every two years. As Mr Smith’s case clearly illustrates, it can help diagnose a variety of conditions as well as checking your vision. We’re delighted to hear that the treatment was a success and pleased we were able to help with the initial diagnosis,’ concluded Niki.

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