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Cancer patient sees value of ‘life saving’ eye test

Post on 19th October 2022

A grandmother from Leeds believes an eye test at her local opticians saved her life as it helped to reveal her cancer had spread.

Emily Barrass, aged 50, praised the care of quick-thinking optometrist Andy Winnard at Scrivens Opticians & Hearing Care as he carried out the eye test, realised something was seriously wrong and acted promptly.

He referred her as an emergency the same day to the eye clinic at St James’s Hospital. Staff there contacted her cancer consultant who sent her for an MRI scan which found her cancer had spread to her brain.

Although a setback in a lengthy health battle, Emily looked on the positive side. She had not been due a scan for her cancer, so the optometrist’s actions proved vital.

She had sought his help after suffering from headaches and then flashing lights in her right eye.

Grateful Emily said: “I feel I would not be here now without Andy. He acted quickly when my eye test showed I needed urgent help. Andy saved my life because the MRI scan showed my current cancer had spread again. My consultant had not been due to scan me yet so we would not have known.

“I would like to bring to everybody’s attention that if you think something is wrong with your body, eyesight etc then get it checked.”

Emily was aware of the value of regular eye tests as she used to work at the same Scrivens Opticians branch in the Penny Hill Centre, Hunslet,

She had to give up her job as a sales advisor on health grounds in August 2019 when the cervical cancer first diagnosed a year earlier spread to her lungs.

Andy, the optometrist at Scrivens Hunslet branch since January 2018, said: “I’m glad I could help Emily. She still faces challenges with her cancer and we’re all wishing her well. I could see when I examined her that one of her pupils was a totally different size to the other. I made an emergency referral on that day to the eye clinic and it went from there.”

Eye tests not only provide a check on the health of the eyes and whether a person’s vision needs correcting, they can spot general health problems such as high blood pressure and diabetes. Early signs of eye conditions such as age-related macular degeneration, cataracts and glaucoma can all be detected with an eye test. If they are spotted earlier on they can be treated more effectively.

Emily is currently receiving chemotherapy on the NHS. However, the NHS does not cover the cost of Bevacizumab, an immunotherapy drug which has made a positive difference to her. It will cost £5,400 for 12 treatments so her family has launched a Go Fund Me  appeal for donations.

Scrivens recommends that adults should have their eyes tested once every two years, while those over 70 years old should have their eyes tested once a year. Children under 16 should have their eyes tested once a year.

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