Coleraine fireman James Campbell has shared his story of life-saving eye surgery at the launch of a national £3 million RNIB and Specsavers’ Transforming Eye Health awareness campaign in the House of Lords, London.

So thankful

Now in great health, James is keen to spread the word about the importance of looking after your eyes: ‘You don’t realise how important your eye sight is until you are in the position I was in. I am so thankful to everyone who was involved in my care and fully support RNIB and Specsavers in this incredibly important campaign.’

Specialised equipment

Waking one morning with blurred vision in his left eye, James made a quick call to Specsavers in Coleraine to have a routine check. A few hours later he was to receive information which effectively changed his life. Using specialised equipment, Specsavers optician Jill Cummings spotted signs of a tumour. As an optician she couldn’t get a definite diagnosis but she was instantly aware from the detailed picture taken of the back of James’s eye that further investigation was needed.

Life-saving surgery

Later that day James was seen by a consultant at Altnagelvin Hospital who confirmed that he had a choroidal melanoma, or potentially cancerous tumour, behind the eye. Within two weeks he was in Royal Liverpool Hospital having life-saving surgery by one of the world’s leading specialists in eye cancer, Professor Bertil Damato.

Launch in London

James travelled to London to attend the launch of the RNIB and Specsavers’ Transforming Eye Health awareness campaign with his wife Fiona. The event was hosted by Lord Dow of Dalston, CBE, Co-chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Groupon Eye Health and Visual Impairment. It was attended by leading figures from the optical, healthcare and charitable professions, including RNIB President Dame Gail Ronson DBE, RNIB Vice-President and campaign ambassador Penny Lancaster (Lady Stewart), as well as Specsavers co-founders Doug and Dame Mary Perkins.

Major report on eye health

Attendees at the launch heard the findings of a State of the Nation: Eye Health 2016 report which revealed that sight loss is costing the UK economy £28 billion annually. Written by RNIB, supported by Specsavers and supplemented by an independent YouGov poll of more than 10,000 UK adults, the report is the most significant and comprehensive insight into the health of the nation’s eyes in recent years. It supports a £3m multi-media public health awareness campaign by RNIB and Specsavers to transform eye health and reduce preventable sight loss in the UK.

Importance of regular eye tests

Specsavers founder Doug Perkins, an optometrist of more than 50 years, says: ‘It’s astonishing that so many people are needlessly living with or at risk of sight loss in the UK today. Nearly half of all sight loss cases are preventable – and a simple eye test can be the first step in prevention. ‘Our mission with RNIB is to transform the nation’s eye health through education, awareness and action; we want to reverse these worrying eye health trends that are putting unnecessary pressure on the health service. ‘That’s why we have invested £3 million to educate people about the importance of looking after their eye health. Prevention is critical. We don’t care where people have an eye test, we just care that they do.’

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