A great grandmother is encouraging residents to get their eyes checked as an appointment at her local optician led to a glaucoma diagnosis.

Julia McCarthy, from North Finchley, visited her local Specsavers for an appointment with store director, Ajay Patel, after her eyes were red and sore.

'Recognised the signs immediately'

‘It started after I lost my husband. My eyes were really bad. Honestly most days, they were red raw. One of my kids suggested laser treatment having seen it advertised in the local paper, but there was no way I would have been able to afford it. I felt I was stuck all on my own and just couldn’t do anything about it. I was even considering selling my house.

‘Ajay recognised the signs immediately. He told me to book an appointment with my GP who quickly referred me to Barnet Hospital. I was then diagnosed with open angle glaucoma.’

After laser treatment from the hospital cured her condition, the pensioner is all too aware things could have proved far more serious, and so is encouraging people to get checked.

'Don't leave it too late'

She said: ‘I had no family history of glaucoma, so it just goes to show that this can happen to anyone. Thank goodness I went to Ajay, or I could have lost my sight. Some people don’t even have any symptoms! I just hope someone is lucky enough to receive the same treatment I did. Don’t leave it too late.’

Often symptomless in its early stages, glaucoma is one of the leading causes of irreversible sight loss. As World Glaucoma Week (11-18 March) puts the spotlight on the condition, data from Public Health England has revealed that Hertfordshire has a higher rate of glaucoma cases in the over 40s than the national average, an upward trend for the county.

With the number of cases on the rise, staff at Specsavers in North Finchley are up-skilling to better support their customers, by undertaking new training developed in conjunction with the International Glaucoma Association.

A word from the store director

Ajay Patel, store director at Specsavers North Finchley, says: ‘We are always keen to learn more about glaucoma. Our store is a big part of the community and being able to better support our customers with the condition is a really positive development for us.

‘Whether there is simply no family history or more critically no symptoms to speak of, it is paramount that we can recognise the signs and guide people to escalate this further. I would encourage everyone to come to see us for an eye health check, whether they have or have not any problems or issues with their eyesight.

‘Mrs McCarthy is just one example, but illustrates how a condition – which could prove life-changing – can be detected by a simple eye health check. She still says thank you every time I see her!’

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