‘Walking into Specsavers changed my life.’

So began a journey for Lesley Ann Graham from Coleraine which started with a stubborn ear infection but which could potentially have left her blind had it not been for the wisdom of her GP and the expertise shown in Specsavers Coleraine.

Slightly blurred vision

In December 2016, Lesley Ann attended her GP for a number of weeks with an ear infection that just wouldn’t go away. After a few weeks of careful monitoring by her GP and several courses of antibiotics, Lesley Ann’s symptoms extended to include slightly blurred vision. Her GP referred her to ENT and advised that she should pay a visit to an optician.

Needed further investigation

Judith Ball, store director, Specsavers Coleraine said: ‘Lesley Ann had never had her eyes tested before and we were able to determine that her level of vision was reasonably good. However, the pictures taken by the fundus camera exposed a more sinister problem. This is a specialised microscope with an attached digital camera which takes a digital picture of the back of the eye.

'At Specsavers we offer retinal photography as part of the standard eye examination. The pictures revealed that both of Lesley Ann’s optic nerves were extremely swollen with clear evidence of haemorrhaging on each. It was quite obvious that she needed further investigation and I referred her immediately to A&E at the Causeway Hospital.’

Blood clot

Judith’s prompt action was followed up instantly at Causeway who admitted Lesley Ann for checks and then transferred her to Antrim Hospital. It was there that she had an operation on her ear and found out that she had a blood clot which necessitated blood thinning medication and further investigation.

Referral to hospital

The next stage of her journey took Lesley Ann to the opthamology department of the Braid Valley Hospital in Ballymena. Tests there resulted in an immediate referral to the Royal Victoria Hospital where she stayed for a week. Following many more tests, lumbar punctures and an operation to insert a stent, Lesley Ann was finally diagnosed with venous sinus thrombosis with mastoiditis – a condition which is difficult to identify but one which could have cost her her sight.

Eye health is so important

Lesley Ann said: ‘I am very grateful to all of the medical professionals who have looked after me but am especially thankful to Judith in Specsavers. Had it not been for her speedy action, goodness knows how much more damage would have been done to my sight by this condition.

'As it is, the vision in my left eye is blurry and I am receiving occupational therapy, but it could have been so much worse. My advice to anyone is to have your eyes tested every two years whether you think you need to or not. It is amazing how eye health is connected to so many other conditions, so make it part of your health check routine.’

Regular eye tests

Judith added: ‘Lesley Ann’s story is a real reminder to everyone that even if you don’t wear glasses you should still have regular eye tests. These few minutes spent in the opticians could turn out to be life-saving.’

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