Katie Boyce, a retinoblastoma survivor and Childhood Eye Cancer Trust (CHECT) ambassador, joined the team at Vision Express’ Ashbourne store for its official re-launch.
The nine-year-old, who lost sight in her left eye after being diagnosed with the rare eye cancer, was invited with her mother to cut the ribbon as a representative of the multiple’s nominated charity, the CHECT.
Store director and optometrist, Estelle Wildman, said: "It was a pleasure to have Katie and her mother join us as special guests to help us celebrate our relaunch and raise awareness of retinoblastoma and the symptoms, which so many parents are unaware of."
"We’re so proud to unveil our new-look store to the local community, which will allow us to continue providing the thorough and personal service Vision Express prides itself on," she added.
Katie was diagnosed with retinoblastoma when she was two years old after her parents noticed that she had a squint. A sight check revealed that Katie needed to be referred to hospital.
"In almost every picture when she was two she had this bright glint in her left eye," Katie’s mother, Jamie, explained.
"We couldn't see it unless there was a flash so it wasn't until after she was diagnosed that we noticed it. Then her left eye started to wander and I thought the two things might be linked," she added.
Katie was referred to Queen’s Hospital in Burton, and then to Birmingham Children’s Hospital, where it was confirmed she had retinoblastoma in both eyes.
The nine-year-old attends check-ups at Birmingham Children’s Hospital every six months, and has now been given the all clear. Katie has subsequently become a CHECT ambassador.
"Retinoblastoma is a rare and fast-growing eye cancer that affects babies and young children, mainly under the age of six," chief executive of the CHECT, Patrick Tonks, explained. "It can either impact one or both eyes and there are around 50–60 cases diagnosed in the UK every year, approximately one child a week."
He added: "A diagnosis of retinoblastoma has a major impact on the whole family and so it is lovely for Katie and her mum to be able to share their story and open the Vision Express Ashbourne store. Our greatest thanks go to the them for their work in raising awareness of childhood eye cancer."