Eye tests can be one of those things that you mean to get done but somehow never seem to get around to.
Aasma Day talks to one Lancashire woman who went for a spur of the moment eye test which revealed a severe brain condition.
Balancing her shopping bags as she walked through the town centre, mum-of-two Michelle Seddon spotted the Specsavers store and decided to nip in, conscious that she had recently noticed a slight deterioration in her vision and suffered a number of headaches.
It ended up being a Saturday morning family shopping trip that changed the life of Michelle, 28, after the eye test revealed a severe brain condition.
Michelle, who lives with partner Ben Kirk at St Gregory’s Place, Chorley, and has a six-year-old daughter, Hazel, and an eight-month-old baby, Henry, says: “I am living proof that getting your eyes checked regularly can save your sight or even your life.”
Michelle was passing the Specsavers on Chapel Street, Chorley, when she decided on impulse to get hers and her daughter Hazel’s eyes tested. Little did Michelle know that she would spend the next five days at the Royal Preston Hospital after being examined by the Specsavers store director Rizwan Iqbal and immediately referred as an emergency with suspected intracranial hypertension – a condition which involves raised pressure within the skull on the brain.
Michelle, who will be marrying partner Ben on October 17, says: “I had been planning to go and pay for the wedding that afternoon, but after taking a photograph of the back of my eyes, the optician told me that I would need to go to hospital straight away.
“It all happened so quickly that I didn’t really know what was going on.”
After undergoing a variety of scans and tests at hospital over the course including a lumbar puncture, it was revealed that vessels in Michelle’s skull had narrowed preventing blood from circulating properly – a condition that can cause blindness, a stroke or potentially worse.
Now recovered but still taking medication to control the condition, nursery nurse Michelle is keen to raise awareness of the importance of regular eye tests.
She says: “I vividly remember driving my two children around town about two weeks before my test thinking: ‘I swear my vision has got slightly worse. I need to get my eyes tested’.
“But even when I started having more regular headaches, I just put it down to ‘my prescription must have changed’ and I told myself I’d get round to going into store.
“That Saturday morning in town, I just saw the Specsavers store and thought I would pop in and get mine and my daughter’s eyes tested.
“It was Hazel’s first ever test and it turned out that she needed glasses, but I’m sure she’ll always remember that trip for what happened next.”
Michelle says it is frightening to think what could have happened if she had not gone for the eye test when she did.
She explains: “If I had not found out about this condition when I did, I could have gone blind or the pressure within my brain could have built up and caused a stroke.
“If I had not decided on a whim to go for an eye test that day, I would never have known about the condition. I am still having regular check-ups at the hospital and I will need to stay on medication for the foreseeable future.
“If the medication does not work, I will need to have an operation. I am so glad I managed to get diagnosed and everything sorted out when I did.
“If I was still the way I was, there is no way our wedding could have gone ahead.”
Michelle has since thanked optician and Chorley Specsavers store director Rizwan Iqbal for the immediate care and fast referral she received.
At Michelle’s insistence, every member of her extended family has since visited the store for an eye test.
She adds: ‘The entire Specsavers team were excellent and, if it wasn’t for Rizwan, I wouldn’t have known about my condition and the effects would have been worse.
“All my family have been for a test and it’s definitely given me peace of mind.
“I cannot explain how important it is for everyone to get their eyes tested regularly.
“You cannot put a price on your health and I’m so glad I went to Specsavers.”
Specsavers recommends everyone visits a trusted and experienced optician every two years. Not only will this ensure their eye health remains in optimum condition, it will also help to detect any underlying health problems.
Rizwan Iqbal, Specsavers Chorley store director, says: “The entire team here is delighted to hear that Michelle’s recovery is going very well.
“It is cases like this which highlight the importance of regular eye checks and why it’s vital to get any problems or concerns you may have, no matter how minor they may seem, checked out as soon as possible.
“You only get one pair of eyes, so it is important to look after them – if you’ve not had an eye test in the last two years you should make an appointment as soon as possible.’