A charity volunteer is warning others of the importance of having regular eye tests after a sight-threatening condition was detected during a routine check-up at her local opticians.
Retired embroidery teacher Jacqueline Wood, 68, was unaware she was suffering from a detached retina until she was seen by eyecare experts at Specsavers in Wimbledon.
Immediately referred to hospital
Jacqueline had booked an eye examination at the store on 19 June, which was performed by optometrist Monali Shah. Towards the end of the examination, Monali identified a suspected tear in Jacqueline’s retina and immediately referred her to hospital for emergency treatment.
Jacqueline said: ‘I volunteer at Westminster Abbey, helping to stitch the vestments there, and I also volunteer for Fine Cell Work, a charity that teaches prisoners to sew and then sells on the work they complete. So my eyesight is very important to me.
‘When Monali said she had noticed a crease on the retina of my left eye and was concerned this could damage my sight, it was a total surprise.’
Following a visit to St George’s Hospital in Tooting the next day, doctors diagnosed Jacqueline as having a rhegmatogenous retinal detachment, a condition that could lead to blindness if left untreated.
Jacqueline said this could have had a serious impact on her volunteer work and her overall quality of life: ‘As well as my stitching, I love reading, so anything that threatened the ability to do this was very worrying.’
Fortunately, Jacqueline was immediately booked in for an operation at Moorfields Eye Hospital on 21 June, where she underwent vitrectomy surgery. ‘I was seen by Specsavers on the Monday, and by Wednesday of the same week, I’d had a successful operation at Moorfields,’ said Jacqueline. ‘It was an incredibly quick response from all involved.’
Following the surgery, Jacqueline has seen a noticeable improvement in her vision and has extended a personal thanks to Monali and the Specsavers Wimbledon team for helping to save her sight.
She said: ‘My left eye is now actually working better than my right eye and I’m due to go back to the Specsavers store for a new glasses prescription.
‘I was very impressed with the service and the professionalism of Monali and all staff at the Wimbledon store, who were also very pleasant during my visit.
‘After this experience, I would definitely encourage others to get their eyes checked on a regular basis.’
Andrew Kemp, store director at Specsavers Wimbledon, said: ‘We’re very happy with the positive feedback about the service provided by Monali and glad to hear that Jacqueline is making a swift recovery from her operation.
‘Caring for your eyes is incredibly important and we would recommend coming in regularly for a check-up, which can help to detect common medical conditions, as well as indicating whether you need to change your glasses or contact lens prescription.’
It comes as a new report published by Specsavers and the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) shows that one in five people will live with sight loss in their lifetime, despite at least half of all cases being avoidable.