A local mother is encouraging local people to visit their opticians regularly as part of their routine health checks after an eye test revealed a serious issue in her daughter’s brain.

Referred straight to hospital

Twelve-year-old Caitlin Hammond, from Sleaford, was diagnosed with IIH (Idiopathic Intracranial Hypertension) earlier this year, after her optometrist at Specsavers noticed that she had swollen optic discs and referred her straight to hospital for further investigation.

‘The whole family has their eyes tested regularly at Specsavers, and this was just a routine appointment,’ said Caitlin’s mum, Alison. ‘Caitlin has astigmatism, so has her eyes tested every six months anyway.

'She hadn’t complained of any symptoms that might have led us to think anything was wrong before the appointment, so as far as we were concerned, she was in good health.’

Underlying condition

During Caitlin’s eye test, thanks to special imaging software, Specsavers optometry director Bijal Ladva noticed that her optic discs were swollen – an indication of an underlying condition. He referred her immediately to Lincoln County Hospital Eye Clinic, where further tests were performed to diagnose the root of the swelling.

‘I was beside myself because the Consultant told us that it could be a brain tumour,’ continued Alison. ‘Caitlin had an MRI as soon as we arrived at the hospital, and two days later we received the results.’

Mimicking the symptoms of a brain tumour

Caitlin was diagnosed with paediatric IIH, meaning that she has pressure on her brain caused by a neurological dysfunction mimicking the symptoms of a brain tumour. She was given a lumbar puncture to relieve the pressure on her brain.

‘Caitlin’s intracranial pressure was measuring 28, while a normal person should be around 20,’ explained Alison. ‘She was given a lumbar puncture while awake and was so brave, even when they had to reposition it.

Recovering well

‘She has been for several more appointments and put on medication to manage the condition. Her prognosis is very positive and she is recovering well.

'We are very grateful to the team at Specsavers in Sleaford, and would urge everyone to have regular eye tests – you never know what they might uncover.’

Bijal Ladva, optometry director at Specsavers Sleaford, said: ‘It is such a relief to know that Caitlin is in recovery and her prognosis is so positive.

'It is always difficult when you notice a potentially serious problem with patients, but thankfully in this case we managed to spot it as early as possible to ensure that Caitlin received treatment quickly.

‘It is a testament to Caitlin’s mum Alison, that she has always had her family checked on a regular basis. We would like to see more members of the community follow her example, and this case highlights just how important regular tests are in spotting any anomalies and getting them treated sooner rather than later.’

Eye tests examine more than your prescription

‘I’m so grateful to the team at Specsavers, and I want to get the message out there about the importance of having a regular eye test,’ said Alison. ‘Most people think it’s about getting your prescription checked, but it’s so much more than that; it’s about your overall health.

'Without her appointment, we wouldn’t have known anything was wrong with Caitlin because she had none of the usual symptoms of IIH. I would encourage everyone to make sure that they are getting checked every two years as a minimum.’

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