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Herne Bay girl’s eye test proves a life saver

Post on 28th February 2023

A nine-year-old girl from Herne Bay owes her life to a routine eye test at her local opticians which revealed she had a dangerous build-up of fluid on the brain.

Thanks to the expertise and response of optometrist Mrudang Patel, who recognised there was a serious problem, Poppy-May Leeds was referred to hospital as a matter of urgency and later underwent emergency surgery to reduce the pressure on her brain.

The youngster is now on the road to recovery and her grateful parents Kayleigh and Thomas Leeds say they cannot thank Mr Patel at the Scrivens Opticians & Hearing Care branch on Mortimer Street enough for his help.

Mum Kayleigh said: “Poppy is lucky to be alive because of Mr Patel and the way he acted. He literally saved our little girl. We are so grateful and so thankful to him because it could have ended so differently.

“Doctors told us it was possible she was born with the condition and that she was very close to having a seizure which could have killed her.”

Kayleigh added: “We want to use our experience to raise awareness of how important it is to have your eyes tested regularly, whatever your age.”

Poppy-May was referred for tests, including an MRI scan, at the emergency eye clinic at William Harvey Hospital in Ashford. She was allowed home but then called back to Margate Hospital as a result of the tests and transferred by emergency ambulance to Kings College Hospital, London.

Surgeons there operated to drain the excess fluid caused by a blockage in the brain and Poppy-May spent six days in the hospital. A reservoir was inserted which will remain in her head for the rest of her life to enable surgeons easy access to any build up of fluid to be drained.

Poppy-May remains under the care of Kings College Hospital where she will be seen every three months. Her parents say she is doing okay but still tires easily and will return to school at Herne Bay Juniors gradually once her strength returns.

Optometrist Mrudang Patel, who has been carrying out eye tests for 16 years, said: “We are trained to look out for a range of conditions, but this was very rare. I was concerned when I saw an appearance of papilloedema. This is the term for swelling of the optic nerves at the back of the eye as a result of increased intracranial pressure, which is why I referred Poppy-May for urgent medical attention. I am so pleased that I was able to help and to meet her again and see how she is doing after such a serious health scare.”

Eye tests not only provide a check on eye health 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.

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 also have their eyes tested once a year.

The build-up of fluid on the brain is called hydrocephalus. The excess fluid puts pressure on the brain, which can damage it, and if left untreated it can be fatal. The damage to the brain can cause a wide range of symptoms including headache, being sick, blurred vision and difficulty walking.

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