Early years tutor Caroline Smyth only started wearing glasses as an adult in November 2018, yet it was a routine eye check-up only 13 months later at Specsavers Ards that revealed much more than short-sightedness.

Scan showed meningioma

A referral to the Royal Victoria Hospital followed by a series of CT and MRI scans indicated meningioma behind the left eye. Meningioma is a type of tumour that forms on membranes that cover the brain and spinal cord. Now Caroline is urging people not to ignore their routine eye check-up reminders.

‘About 10 months ago I started to experience headaches as well as a slight numbness on the left side of my face. I knew things weren’t quite right and I decided to pay a visit to my optician, Sharon at Specsavers in Newtownards. I thought I merely needed a stronger prescription. I really had no idea there was anything more wrong.’

Referred Caroline to hospital

Optometrist, Sharon Butler, explains: ‘Caroline wears single vision reading glasses and had noticed her right eye was not feeling totally normal, particularly relating to eye movement. During the examination, tests on the way the eye muscles function showed a nerve palsy limiting movement of the left eye causing some double vision. This wasn’t normal and I referred Caroline immediately to eye casualty at the Royal Victoria Hospital.’

Radiography sessions

After undergoing a blood test and a CT scan Caroline was referred to the ophthalmology department for further investigations. Meningioma showed up on the scan and though benign, further assessment and a treatment plan by a neurosurgery team was necessary.

‘I was then put forward for radiotherapy and in June began 28 sessions at Belfast City Hospital to help shrink the tumour.

Don’t miss out on routine eye tests

‘I would encourage everyone to make sure they don’t miss out on routine eye tests. I had read in a magazine article that other health issues can be detected during an eye test and I feel very lucky that Sharon referred me to the specialists straight away. I’m so grateful for her professional and persuasive actions.’

Stores remain open for all eye care and hearing needs

Specsavers stores in Northern Ireland remain open for all eye care and hearing needs. Opticians and audiologists are recognised as providing essential health care services, which means Specsavers’ 23 stores in Northern Ireland continue to offer a full breadth of services to the local community.

All Newtownards store information