An optometrist saved my life
“She spotted a small raised area at the back of the retina of my right eye”
Optometrist director at Specsavers Brownhills, Justine Page, and her patient, Margaret O’Reilly, tell OT about making a life-saving referral
What prompted you to go for a sight test?
Margaret O’Reilly (MO): I went for a routine sight test and saw my optometrist, Justine Page. She spotted a small raised area at the back of the retina of my right eye. I was then referred to Birmingham Midland Eye Centre, which is based at Birmingham’s City Hospital, for a more detailed examination.
Can you describe how you felt during the referral?
MO: The thought of being referred to hospital during a routine eye test could have been very scary, but Justine explained the situation calmly and clearly and helped me to understand why she wanted me to be seen by a specialist.
Did you have to undergo further treatment?
MO: The tumour was so small, the consultants couldn’t decide if it was likely to be malignant, as it didn’t show all the indicators, but they decided it was best to remove it anyway. It turned out to be malignant and would have spread to other areas of my body had it not been detected.
What has been the outcome?
MO: The vision in my right eye has been affected. I had a six-monthly check at the Royal Hallamshire Hospital and will continue to be monitored by Birmingham Midland Eye Centre for a further four years.
"She spotted a small raised area at the back of the retina of my right eye"
Have your views on the importance of sight tests and eye care changed as a result of this experience?
MO: I didn’t have any issues with my sight, and was just having a routine examination when Justine made the discovery. Without her diligence and quick referral, who knows what the result could have been? It just goes to show the importance of regular eye tests. I’m so grateful to the team at Specsavers.
How have you been involved in the process since the sight test?
Justine Page (JP): I only found out what Margaret had experienced when she brought a thank you card into the Brownhills store after it had all happened.
How did you react?
JP: I was really shocked when I found out what she’d gone through, but very pleased I’d managed to make a positive difference to her. It’s been a long journey, but she’s finally on the road to recovery. Although she has suffered a deterioration of the vision in the affected eye, the outcome could have been so much worse.
Why is Margaret’s case important?
It puts everything into context. The whole reason I went into optometry was to help people and save sight, and on this occasion, it might have been the difference between life and death. When she came in, it really hit home why I chose this career path in the first place.