This National Eye Health Week (19 – 25 September) , a member of staff at Specsavers Eccles is sharing her own story as an example of how one eye test can save your sight.
Jayne, who is now recovering and back at work after being diagnosed with a brain tumour discovered by her work colleagues last year.
The dispensing assistant, who has worked for Specsavers for 10 years, is helping to raise awareness of the importance of regular eye tests in preventing people from needlessly losing their sight.
Recalling her experience, Jayne says she has suffered from headaches for most of her life but had always assumed they were never the result of anything serious: ‘I’ve visited a few GPs regarding migraines and was always reassured that’s all they were, so I’ve really never thought anything more of them.’
However in April 2015, Jayne had a cluster of severe headaches in quick succession and wasn’t as able to shake them off as she had done previously.
‘I was experiencing a number of really bad headaches in a short period of time. My father suffered from a brain tumour, so I decided to get another opinion to be certain that I wasn’t suffering from any more serious problems.
‘Having worked in Specsavers for as long as I have, I knew that if there was a problem, my colleague Una would be able to spot it with an eye test.’
It was Specsavers Eccles store director Una Martin that discovered a swelling behind Jayne’s retina.
After an emergency referral, Jayne had an appointment at Manchester Royal Infirmary and was referred to Salford Royal for MRI scans which confirmed Jayne’s meningioma and brain tumour.
Jayne remembers the day clearly: ‘My husband Dennis and I were shown a copy of my X-Ray and were told that the large white shape in my skull was a tumour. I was also told that there was a slightly smaller tumour there as well, both of which would need to be removed.
‘Scott Rutherford, my doctor, was great while telling me this news. He mentioned that while it was highly unlikely that the tumours were cancerous, we wouldn’t know for certain until they were removed, and that an operation would be carried out to remove the tumours and install a titanium plate to replace the skull removed.’
Unfortunately for Jayne, a 12-hour operation which revealed the removed tumours were not cancerous, did not signal the end of her health problems as a bout of pneumonia and a series of blood clots saw her spend a further three weeks in hospital.
But with another scan in November, she was told that all traces of the tumours had been removed from her brain. While she is still on medication and being regularly monitored, she was overjoyed to hear the news. In March 2016, after a 10 month absence, Jayne returned to her job in Specsavers Eccles:
‘The entire team have been so incredibly welcoming and patient with me since I’ve come back to work. It’s been really touching has been the customers who’ve called in specifically to see me and ask how I’m doing.’
Jayne is now more eager than ever to make sure everyone knows that regular eye tests are important to alert people to these problems as early as possible: ‘If this can happen to an optician it can happen to absolutely anyone. Every day I think how lucky I was that I asked Una to give me that eye test, and I’m so grateful for her brilliant response to what she found.
‘The whole experience has actually given me a really positive outlook, as no matter what kind of day I’m having I’ll remind myself that I’m still alive and kicking – and that’s what’s really important!’
Return to Specsavers
Store director Una Martin has been overjoyed to have Jayne back with the rest of the team: ‘Jayne has been an integral part of our team ever since she started working with us, so everyone felt the impact when she was off as a result of her health problems.
Diagnosing these sorts of problems is always difficult to explain to customers, but this was a particularly tough one given that I’ve worked with Jayne for many years.’
Our mission together 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 and placing a massive burden on the public purse.
The partnership comes at an exciting time, with recent findings from RNIB and Specsavers’ State of the Nation: Eye Health Report 2016 which emphasises the need for greater awareness about eye health in the UK and in promoting prevention through education.
This week, a number of Manchester Specsavers store are decked out in the colours of the RNIB and providing collection tins in-store as part of the National Eye Health Week campaign to encourage awareness of the importance of regular eye tests, a message Jayne supports wholeheartedly. As well as Eccles, Specsavers in Swinton, Fallowfield, Hyde, Wythenshawe, Sale, Altrincham, Salford, Stretford, Harpurhey, Manchester Arndale and Manchester Fort are also accepting donations instore during National Eye Health Week.