Crucial eye test led to urgent referral for life-threatening condition

31-year-old backs free eye test initiative from Vision Express for National Eye Health Week 2016, as optician brings its ‘Vision Van’ to Leeds on Friday 23 September

Ahead of the UK’s National Eye Health Week (19-25 September 2016), a Bradford mother-of-one has told of a life-threatening condition that was picked up during a routine eye test.

Bradford local Hannah Fouassier with optometrist Sanam
Hannah Fouassier, aged 31, began experiencing worsening headaches during the summer, which she put down to needing a stronger prescription in her glasses and headed to Vision Express in Bradford. However, the optometrist quickly identified increased pressure behind Hannah’s eyes, and made an urgent referral to Bradford Royal Infirmary for investigation.

The experience was a harrowing flashback for Hannah, who five years earlier was hospitalised with the same deadly condition, called intracranial hypertension. Treatment involved fluid being drained from her brain and an emergency lumbar puncture to relieve a build-up of pressure.

Hannah, who works in the complaint department of a financial company, explains: “I was vomiting for days after the procedure and I was stuck in hospital so I couldn’t look after my little boy, Max, who was only six months old at the Bradford local Hannah Fouassier was diagnosed with intracranial hypertension after an eye test at her local Vision Express storetime. I couldn’t get out of bed or anything. What was worse, I had to have another lumbar puncture a year later because the pressure hadn’t reduced enough for it to be safe.”

Hannah was prescribed medication and remained under the supervision of a neurologist at the hospital. She was discharged after two years, only for her recent Vision Express eye test to detect that the condition had returned.

She said: “I now go for regular checks to make sure everything is ok behind my eyes but I wasn’t expecting anything to be wrong this time round. I just assumed I was getting headaches because I needed a new prescription. That was on the Tuesday and I was back in the hospital by the Thursday. I just keep thinking that it must be a tumour or something that they can’t find. But I’ve had CT and MRI scans at the hospital and everything is thankfully ok.

“My condition was near-fatal the first time, and thankfully wasn’t as bad this time because it’s been caught it early. I couldn’t believe it was happening again but I was hoping that the early diagnosis would make a difference. Although I was worried and upset – nobody likes hospitals –it was good news in the end because I’d gone for an eye test without delay.”

The speedy diagnosis meant Hannah avoided another painful lumbar puncture. “I’m so thankful that the optometrist Sanam noticed that something was wrong”, says Hannah. “I would have had to wait six months for a general check-up at the hospital so I am unbelievably grateful for the referral from Vision Express.”

Hannah is currently under the supervision of medics but is feeling optimistic and hoping to be discharged after her next appointment with the neurologist in November. She added: “People need to realise that eye tests aren’t just to monitor vision. Just because you think you can see things ok, doesn’t mean nothing sinister is going on.”

Adam Rushton, Vision Express Bradford store manager, said. “It’s lovely for Hannah to come back into the store and thank us for spotting her condition, but that’s our job and we’re just thrilled that picking up the signs when we did means Hannah can be treated and make a full recovery. Her story shows why it’s so crucial to have a regular eye test, and get to an optician immediately if you experience symptoms such as increasing headaches, blurred vision or anything of concern with your eyes.”

Vision Express is urging the public to take sight seriously and is offering a free eye test to everyone in the UK to mark National Eye Health Week 2016.

The free eye test is available via an online voucher that can be downloaded on the Vision Express website until the end of September (www.visionexpress.com/national-eye-health-week-2016/free-eye-test/). The voucher can be redeemed until the end of October 2016 at any of approximately 400 Vision Express stores across the UK.

To reinforce its commitment to eye health, Vision Express has also commissioned its Vision Van for a third consecutive year. The large mobile unit is equipped with the very latest eye testing technology. It will take to the streets during September in eye health ‘hotspots’ and is open for testing from 10am to 5pm.

The tour will visit: Friday 23rd September Leeds (Briggate, Leeds, LS1 6LX)

Last year 85% of people tested on the Vision Van needed a new prescription, and one in 10 was referred to a GP because something was spotted that needed further medical attention. One in six had never had an eye test.

The initiative aims to tackle a worsening outlook for eye health, following the latest RNIB (Royal National Institute of Blind People) research revealing that almost two million people are living with sight loss.

Vision Express offers an eye test to best practice guidelines of the College of Optometrists (COO), with each Vision Express optometrist being a qualified eye health professional. To find your nearest Vision Express store and make an eye test appointment visit: www.visionexpress.com/opticians/