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An optometrist saved my life

“If it wasn’t for the eye test, I could have lost my sight completely”

Behavioural optometrist and director at Central Vision Opticians, Bhavin Shah, and his patient, Vinod Mayer, discuss a sight-saving referral

27 Jun 2019 by Andrew McClean

Before you went for a sight test, had you experienced any symptoms and how had this affected your day-to-day life?

Vinod Mayer (VM): On a Friday night, sitting at home watching a concert on TV, I started seeing cracked vision on the faces of the actors. I went to visit my optometrist, Bhavin Shah, on the Saturday morning.

What did the optometrist find, and how did they explain the next steps to you?

VM: When I explained the situation and my symptoms to Bhavin, he told me to go straight to Moorfields Eye Hospital’s 24 hour A&E as it was Saturday afternoon. He explained that these symptoms could indicate damage to the retina. He also told me not to drive.

Can you describe how you felt during the referral?

VM: I was shocked at first but I understood the importance.

Did you have to undergo further treatment and what has been the outcome?

VM: I was in Moorfields for several hours while they examined my eye extensively. They told me to come back the next day for laser surgery. Soon after this, I was still having difficulties with my vision and was referred to St Thomas' Hospital where I diagnosed with a fungal infection of the eye.

“When Bhavin examined my eye, he saw that the lens inside my eye had moved slightly and I was getting some of my sight back”

Patient, Vinod Mayer

I could not see at all out of that eye for several years until one day when I woke up and could see a little . I went urgently to see Bhavin again. When Bhavin examined my eye, he saw that the lens inside my eye had moved slightly and I was getting some of my sight back. I recently had a cataract operation and my sight has improved significantly. I can now drive again, watching TV is much better too.

Have your views on the importance of sight tests and eye care changed as a result of this experience?

VM: If it wasn’t for the eye test, I could have lost my sight completely. Eye care and eye tests are so important.

How has the experience changed your life?

VM: It has taken seven years of my life to regain my vision. It was extremely difficult having to rely on my wife to drive for all those years. I could not enjoy simple things like watching cricket during that time.

“I could not enjoy simple things like watching cricket during this time”

Patient, Vinod Mayer

What did you identify during the sight test and what was your reaction?

Bhavin Shah (BS): I had referred Mr Mayer for a posterior vitreous detachment in that eye two months prior to this, where nothing abnormal was found. I was able to see a significant increase in floaters in the affected eye and considering the symptoms he was experiencing, I knew an urgent referral was necessary. I was extremely concerned because the signs and symptoms indicated a retinal tear or detachment, which I knew could have been devastating. I explained the risks in a calm, empathetic but matter of fact way. I explained the need for urgency and why the referral could not wait.

Bhavin test room
Bhavin Shah and Vinod Mayer

How did you approach explaining what you had identified?

BS: I explained that the jelly in everyone’s eyes shrinks and can damage the retina. I advised that the risk of retinal damage was low but could cause someone to lose their sight if it wasn’t examined by a consultant immediately and, if necessary, treated as soon as possible.

What were the next steps that you took, and what was the significance of these steps to this case?

BS: I wrote a letter for Mr Mayer to take with him to the A&E clinic. He asked if he could go to Barnet but I advised that because it was Saturday, he would need to go to Moorfields which has a 24 hour A&E. I also told him not to drive because they will be using lots of drops that would make his vision blurry.

“I was extremely concerned because the signs and symptoms indicated a retinal tear or detachment”

Behavioural optometrist and director at Central Vision Opticians, Bhavin Shah

When did you hear about the results of your referral and how have you been involved since?

BS: I spoke to Mr Mayer over the telephone and he told me he was recovering from the laser surgery.

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