Teaching assistant Yvonne Robbins said she will be ‘eternally grateful’ to her local opticians for preventing her from taking a flight that could have led to her losing her vision.

Headaches and flashing lights 

The 55-year-old mother from Wembley was due to fly to America to attend her brother’s wedding in 2000. However, she began experiencing headaches and started to see flashing lights in front of her eyes just before she was due to jet off.

Yvonne said: ‘I put the headaches down to tension and stress from preparing for the holiday. I didn’t think at the time that this had anything to do with my eyes.’ It was not until a friend suggested that Yvonne’s symptoms might be something more serious that she finally decided to seek advice from an eyecare expert.

Yvonne said: ‘I remember pushing one of my young sons in a pram and was struggling to keep control of it – I was thinking either the pram had a mind of its own or there was something wrong with my glasses.

‘A friend of mine thought I might have high blood pressure or a build-up of pressure around my eyes, and she suggested I go in for an eye test.’

Detached retina

Yvonne booked an appointment at Specsavers in Wembley, where she was seen by ophthalmic optician Rakesh Kapoor. Following an eye examination, Rakesh suspected Yvonne was suffering from a detached retina and advised her to seek immediate treatment.

‘When I heard the news, I was shocked,’ said Yvonne. ‘I went to Western Eye Hospital, where I was told that I actually had two detached retinas and I needed to be kept in overnight. I would never have realised how serious this was had I not gone to get my eyes checked.’

Following a consultation, Yvonne was booked in to Moorfields Eye Hospital, where she underwent a successful operation to fix her detached retinas. Had Yvonne taken the flight, this could have led to serious complications with her condition and might even have led to her completely losing her sight.

She said: ‘I dread to think what would have happened if I had taken the plane. ‘I’m eternally grateful to my friend and Specsavers in Wembley for taking me seriously. Without them, I might never have been able to see my children and my family again.’

Importance of regular eye tests

For the last 17 years following the operation, Yvonne has been visiting Specsavers Wembley for regular tests to check the health of her eyes – something she encourages everyone to do.

She said: ‘I would urge anyone to get regular checks at their opticians. They’re not just there to help you choose a new pair of glasses - they can also pick up medical conditions that you didn’t even know you had.’

Rakesh, who is also store director at Specsavers Wembley, said: ‘After examining Yvonne, it was clear that she needed to receive immediate treatment for her condition. We were relieved to hear that her operation was successful and we’re happy to have played a part in helping with her recovery.

‘Taking care of our customers’ eyesight is our top priority, and we can’t stress enough to them about the importance of having regular tests to help them maintain good eye health, and detect and prevent serious health issues.’

It comes as a new report published by Specsavers and the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) shows one in five people will live with sight loss in their lifetime, despite at least half of all cases being avoidable.

All Wembley store information