Glasgow woman Maureen Afafy received sight-saving – and potentially life-saving – treatment after her optician spotted the symptoms of a stroke.

The 64-year-old was set to jet off to meet a luxury cruise ship in Rome – but two days before the dream holiday she went to Specsavers at Glasgow Forge for an eye test. 

The grandmother-of-three made the appointment after experiencing headaches and reduced vision in one eye. And she says she is forever grateful she took that precaution, as the optician recognised her need for urgent medical attention.

Crippling headaches

Maureen said: ‘I headed down to Specsavers as I knew something wasn’t right with my vision and I was experiencing crippling headaches throughout the week. Initially, I thought my prescription needed updated but when I visited the Glasgow Forge store and explained my symptoms they gave me an appointment immediately.

‘I thought I’d get a quick eye test and my prescription would be waiting for me when I returned from my cruise with my husband. Unfortunately the outcome was more sinister.’

Significant sight loss

Optometrist Hanin Al-Rahho (23) examined Maureen and asked for more details on her symptoms. She discovered that her visual impairment was not limited to her left eye – she was, in fact, experiencing significant loss of vision in both eyes.

Maureen adds: ‘Looking back, I had shimmering in my eye and nausea but I thought either my prescription was out of date or I had the onset of a migraine. But when Hanin told me she was referring me to hospital immediately, I knew it was serious and called my husband.’

Mini stroke detected

Maureen was sent to Glasgow Royal Infirmary where she had a CT scan, revealing the shock news that she had had a transient ischaemic attack (TIA), also known as a ‘mini stroke’. This is caused by a temporary disruption in the blood supply to part of the brain. A thyroid imbalance was also identified.

The prompt diagnosis meant doctors were able to give Maureen the treatment and medication she urgently required.

Optician Hanin – who undertook her training at Glasgow Caledonian University – says it is extremely rare to find such a serious condition when investigating a headache, explaining: ‘Mrs Afafy was one of the unfortunate few.

Additional symptoms

‘More symptoms came to light as I asked her more questions about her condition, and it became apparent that something was not right. When the extent of her visual impairment became clear, particularly in her peripheral vision, I knew very quickly that I would need to refer her to A&E.

‘Cases like this are few and far between, but do illustrate the fact a visit to the opticians can detect signs of a vast number of conditions – I can’t stress enough the importance of having your eyes regularly tested.’

Strong recovery

Six months on, Maureen is making a strong recovery and wants to rearrange the dream holiday that she was forced to cancel earlier this year.

‘I owe my life to Specsavers’, said Maureen. ‘If I hadn’t received my appointment so quickly, the chances are I could have died on that plane. I will never miss an eye examination again.

‘Hanin called me every day to check on my progress and I can’t thank her, and Specsavers, enough for their care, compassion and support. My treatment is ongoing but as soon as it is complete the first thing I plan to do is get my holiday re-booked.’

All Glasgow Forge information