Emergency trip to optician uncovered signs of stroke in Denise Wilson. This week she shares the story of her unexpected diagnosis

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A Lurgan woman this week told how an emergency visit to the optician probably saved her life.

Denise Wilson thought she was suffering a bad dose of heartburn or indigestion, late last March, and took the appropriate ‘across the counter’ pills to alleviate the pain.

Denise Wilson who believes her life was saved through an eye test by Eamonn Murray of Specsavers, Rushmere. INPT40-212.

Denise Wilson who believes her life was saved through an eye test by Eamonn Murray of Specsavers, Rushmere. INPT40-212.

However, the next day she woke up to acute double vision and her first instinct was to make an emergency visit to her optometrist, Eamonn Murray at Specsavers in Rushmere Shopping Centre, Craigavon.

Denise explained her symptoms on arrival and was seen immediately by Eamonn and given a thorough examination.

Specsavers optometrist and Craigavon store director Eamonn detected that all was not well and referred Denise immediately to the emergency eye casualty at Craigavon Area Hospital.

Armed with an explanatory letter from Eamonn, Denise was assessed that same day by the medical team at Craigavon and admitted to hospital overnight for a series of scans and tests.

These revealed that 61-year-old Denise had suffered a mild stroke the evening before.

“The hospital team explained that the chest pains and double vision were the result of a mild stroke and scans showed that I had in fact been affected by a series of mini-strokes weeks prior to that evening.

“Initially when I experienced double vision I really had no idea of what had happened to me and felt extremely vulnerable and scared.

“I’m very thankful that my optician Eamonn Murray having tested my eyes realised that all was not as it should be and referred me directly to the emergency eye casualty.

“It really was a turning point and I believe helped prevent me suffering a further much more intense stroke.

“Following the stroke diagnosis I am now monitored regularly by the hospital and attend a number of clinics.

“I have been prescribed medication and indeed have implemented changes to my lifestyle and diet to help prevent any future stroke incidents.

“Although I do have other health issues including sciatica and COPD that need to be managed I am doing well at the moment and am determined to look after myself.

“I am of course very grateful to Eamonn and the team at Specsavers Craigavon for seeing me so quickly and detecting the underlying health issue.

“Eamonn’s swift action and eye analysis meant I was treated quickly and effectively.

“Health wise I now know what I’m up against and can, with the help of medical professionals, take all the precautions to ensure I enjoy life to the full.”

Eamonn spotlighted the importance of eye health.

“Good eyesight is a crucial part of our overall wellbeing from tiny tots and schoolchildren to helping older people live a full and independent life.

“Over 1.8 million people in the UK are living with sight loss and for 53% of these a simple sight test and new spectacles could really help. 20 million people don’t get the recommended two yearly eye test and one in 10 people have never even had an eye examination!

“A simple sight test can also detect early signs of conditions such as glaucoma, which can be treated if found early enough, as well as diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and even life threatening tumours.

“Whilst we advise people to have their eyes tested every two years, for some groups, such as those thought to be at risk of certain eye diseases, a more frequent test is recommended.

“Often people will wait until there is something wrong before visiting an optician and in some instances this may be too late. So the message is make your eyes a priority and ensure an eye test is as much a part of your health routine as dental checks!”

Smokers are three times more likely to lose their vision in comparison to non-smokers. Eating well and watching your weight is also essential. Early obesity is associated with diabetes and people suffering diabetes are 20 times more at risk of going blind than someone without the condition.

For young children it’s recommended that they have their first eye test by the age of three. Approximately 80% of what is taught in schools is presented visually so good eyesight will really help your child to learn and develop, setting them up for a happy school life.

“Often it can be difficult for parents to tell if their children have sight issues, which is why regular testing is so important.

“Tell-tale signs to look out for include a child losing their place while reading, frequent eye rubbing, constantly sitting too close to the TV or complaining of headaches or tired eyes. Young children may also try to avoid activities which need near vision such as homework or reading or don’t want to participate in sports or recreational activities which require distance vision.”

To book an eye test at Specsavers, Rushmere Shopping Centre, Tel 02838 345688 or www.specsavers.co.uk/stores/craigavon

See our video interview on our website www.lurganmail.co.uk