‘Don’t wait until it’s too late’ says Bury woman after opticians identifies painful eye condition

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A 68-year-old woman from Bury is calling for others not to ignore their sight problems after a visit to her opticians identified two corneal ulcers that could have cost her sight.

The advice comes as the UK celebrates National Eye Health Week, and is a reminder of the importance of regular check-ups.

Lin Brereton had recently visited her local Vision Express for a routine eye check, but noticed a worrying change to her right eye just two weeks later.

A Vision Express customer for over 20 years, she said: “I woke up on the Saturday morning and felt an unusual pain in my right eye. It was sore to touch and red so I thought it was an allergy at first, but over the next couple of days, my vision became blurrier and the pain got worse.”

With her sight deteriorating and a sudden sensitivity to light developing by the following Tuesday, Lin knew something was seriously wrong.

She added: “I couldn’t stand the light. My husband David had his eye test appointment at Vision Express Bury St Edmunds that same afternoon so I went with him to see if I could get checked out.

“The team was very accommodating and fitted me in to see the optometrist. She was extremely professional and performed a thorough, methodical examination of my eye, and said she was glad I had come in when I did because I needed immediate medical attention.”

Lin was diagnosed with two small ulcers on her cornea, which had been causing the discomfort and problem with her vision.

Similar to an abscess, the condition result from an infection of the cornea and without treatment, can lead to severe vision impairment or even loss of the eye.

She said: “Vision Express referred me for an urgent appointment at the eye clinic and I was seen by a consultant at West Suffolk Hospital the very next morning.

“I was prescribed a course of steroid drops to treat the ulcers and had to apply them several times a day for a fortnight, which thankfully cleared them up and eased the pain. I was also told not to wait so long to see someone if it happens again and I’ll be taking that advice and passing it on to others.”

Becky Haywood is the store partner and optometrist at the Bury store, and has provided eye health expertise to the local community for 12 years. She said: “After seeing Lin, it was a red flag to us that an ulcer may be the issue, so we made a call to immediately get her further medical attention, and thankfully Lin was seen at the hospital the very next day.

“This condition is quite rare, and if untreated can be sight-threatening. There isn’t any specific risk factors for getting ulcers, although Lin had been gardening so something getting into her eye could have caused an infection. We’re just pleased that we were able to act swiftly to ensure no permanent damage was done to Lin’s sight. If anyone experiences blurred vision or floaters, or concerning vision symptoms, it’s crucial to get to an optician without delay.”

Vision Express is urging the public to take sight seriously and is offering a free eye test to everyone in the UK throughout September. The initiative aims to tackle a worsening outlook for eye health, following research revealing that over 2 million people in the UK are living with sight loss.

The free eye test is available via an online voucher that can be downloaded on the Vision Express website - www.visionexpress.com/national-eye-health-week-2016/free-eye-test/