A woman whose sight was saved by an eye test is urging people to take action to look after their vision.
Claire Shaw, 46, from Farndon, was shocked to discover last year that her eyes’ sensitivity to light was an indication of a serious problem, which could have cost her sight.
An eye test at Specsavers Chester revealed that Claire, who thought she was suffering with hayfever or conjunctivitis, had a detached retina in her right eye and a tear in her left retina.
Claire says: “I had been struggling with bright lights, particularly at night, and often had a shadow in the corner of my eye. If I was driving at night and a car approached from around a corner with its lights on I would be blinded for a moment. The symptoms came on gradually until the point that I decided to do something about it.”
Claire was seen by Specsavers’ optician Katriona Holding who said: “Claire described all the symptoms of a detached retina, including flashing lights and a ‘shadow’ in the corner of her eye.
“I took retinal photographs as a routine part of her pre-screening and was immediately able to see there was a problem with the retina in her right eye – it did prove on further examination to be detached.
“This means that the retina had peeled away from the back of her eye like wet wallpaper peeling off a wall. As the retina comes off it is no longer in contact with its blood supply and can rapidly die off. Once this sensitive retinal tissue has been damaged the sight will be permanently lost in this area.
“Obviously time was of the essence for Claire and we were able to arrange an emergency appointment for her at the hospital that day.”
Over the following weeks and months, Claire underwent a series of treatments. A freezing treatment was used on her left eye to freeze the tear on the retina back together.
Unfortunately, Claire was one of the 20% of cases where the procedure does not heal as planned but results in a macular pucker.
“It was just bad luck,” adds Claire. “My vision was wiggly, as the macular had not healed smoothly over the retina. I had to have a further operation to peel off the macular and replace it.
“Once again it wasn’t quite smooth sailing, though, as occasionally the macular peel results in cataracts because you lose the eye’s natural gel. I had cataracts removed, and subsequently developed secondary cataracts behind the eye which were treated by laser.”
A keen runner and a regular gym-goer, Claire is now finally getting back to normal life. She said: “My vision isn’t quite perfect but it’s certainly manageable. I’m very lucky.”