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National Eye Health Week 2014

Your vision matters: National Eye Health Week

Sight is the sense we use the most. In an average life, our eyes will have seen over 24 million different images. They perform amazing feats on a day to day basis; they can focus quickly between distances of 10cm and infinity, judge speed within 5-10% accuracy, can quickly adjust to bright sunlight or devouring darkness, and they are constantly protecting us from unknown dangers.

This week, eye care charities, health professionals and citizens up and down the country are joining together for National Eye Health Week, to promote the importance of vision and encourage people to get their sight checked. To help celebrate National Eye Health Week, we kindly folks at Lenstore have collated some extraordinary stories to show how amazing our eyes are. Whilst our eyes’ primary job is to help us see, these stories show that they can even leave clues that could save lives.

Amber Carter has firsthand experience of this. After suffering from painful headaches and nausea for months, and consulting with several doctors to no concrete solution, Amber booked a £32 appointment with her optician, following a suggestion after a recommendation that the route of her problem may be bad eyesight. 

Following a quick inspection of her eyes, optometrist Anna, 33, of Haine & Smith in Chippenham, said: “I could see that her optic nerves were swollen in both eyes, and that can indicate cancer. She was completely shocked to find she’d got a brain tumour – her biggest fear when she arrived was that she might have to wear glasses”. 

When emergency tests confirmed the presence of a growth, Amber was admitted to surgery, and surgeons removed a large tumour about 5cm across, the size of an orange. Doctors had to shave part of Amber’s brain away due to the sheer size of the tumour, and noted how it had probably been growing slowly for a long time. Now on the road to recovery, Amber is fiercely grateful to her optician: “If I hadn’t gone to the optician’s, then I probably wouldn’t even be here anymore”.

Cataract eye

It is not just qualified optometrists who can help save lives, as Madeline Robb can testify. Browsing through family photos her online friend Megan Santos had uploaded from the US, the 32 year old business analyst from Stretford spotted an unusual white shadow on a photo of one-year-old Rowan Santos. Although Madeline had never received any medical training, she recognised the symptoms of a rare form of eye cancer called Retinoblastoma, a fast-growing childhood cancer that develops in the cells of the retina (the light-sensitive layer of tissue lining the inner surface of the eye). 

Within hours of Madeline emailing her suspicions to Megan 4,500 miles away, Rowan had been rushed to the hospital, where doctors found a large tumour behind her left eye. Mrs Santos considers Madeline Robb her hero: “If she hadn’t sent that email, Rowan’s prognosis wouldn’t be as good as it is”. 

Doctors have estimated that, if the tumour had not been recognised, within a week, it would have hit the optic nerve and proved fatal. Luckily for Rowan, her tumour was diagnosed early, and after undergoing chemotherapy, she is now in remission.

These stories show how easily people from every walk of life can take care of their eyes – be it through a quick glance at a photo, or an appointment with a professional optician. 

Looking after your eyesight doesn’t mean just booking a sight test; simple tasks such as a healthy lifestyle and shielding your eyes from harmful sunrays are detrimental. Take a moment to think how much we depend on our eyes, and make a change. Your vision matters.