Woman urges others not to neglect their vision after Specsavers in Hemel Hempstead saved her eyesight

Under current government guidance, Specsavers stores remain open for all eye and hearing needs during lockdown

Friday, 26th March 2021, 9:11 am
Updated Friday, 26th March 2021, 9:12 am

A 60-year-old woman is encouraging others not to neglect their vision after her eyesight was saved following an eye test at Specsavers in Hemel Hempstead.

Gillian Rance, who works as a domestic bursar at a Hertfordshire Independent School, booked in for her routine eye test in November 2020 at her local Specsavers store in Hemel Hempstrad, expecting she might just need a stronger prescription.

When she arrived, pre-registration optometrist Stephanie Crowe carried out a full eye examination on Gillian, which included using an OCT (Optical Coherence Tomography) machine, which provides a detailed structural scan of the eye, including layers that would not normally be visible using traditional eye testing techniques.

Stephanie Crowe, Pre-Registration Optometrist with a customer

Stephanie said: "The OCT scan uses light to take more than 1,000 images of the back of your eye and beyond, looking right back to the optic nerve and creating a cross-section view.

"‘The added benefit of the scan is that we can store the customer’s OCT images so they can note changes over time – a real benefit to the monitoring of someone’s overall eye health."

The examinations confirmed Stephanie’s suspicions of a detached retina. This was affecting an area of the essential central retina, where the majority of the detailed and colour vision is taken in, so an urgent referral to hospital was vital before greater damage and loss of vision takes place.

Mrs Rance said: "I was quite stunned to find out that I had this eye condition, as aside from my eyes feeling like the prescription had changed and the occasional flashing light in my right eye, I felt fine.

"Stephanie was so helpful, keeping in touch to ensure that I had heard from the hospital. She was really supportive and reassuring."

Initially, Mrs Rance was referred to Stoke Mandeville Hospital for tests, however they referred her on to the specialist Oxford Eye Hospital, where she had an operation to repair the damage to her right eye.

Recovering from the shock and the operation, Mrs Rance commended the treatment she received from the NHS team, who she said had dealt with the eye condition incredibly promptly.

She said: "The team at Specsavers were also excellent in referring me to an eye specialist and for their support during this emergency.

"I am so relieved that I kept my regular eye test. I think particularly as you get older, it is so important to take care of yourself, including your eyes."

Normally Mrs Rance leads an active life, walking, running regularly and enjoying creative pursuits like painting. The eye condition has affected her daily lifestyle for the moment as she was advised not put extra stress on her body with jogging.

Mrs Rance also now has a cataract in her right eye, meaning painting, crocheting and other hobbies are more difficult due to the detailed and close work they involve.

She had to wait until her eye was fully recovered before being considered for cataract treatment, and this procedure has now been booked for the end of this month.

Despite her recent health scare, Mrs Rance remains optimistic and is full of praise and gratitude to the team at Specsavers Hemel Hempstead.

Stephanie was pleased to hear Gillian was recovering well.

She said: "I hope to see her once she is fully recuperated for her follow up eye test. It is so important for everyone to ensure they attend a regular eye test, as checking the health of your eyes is just as important as checking your prescription."

Under current government guidance, Specsavers stores remain open for all eye and hearing needs during lockdown.

In line with NHS recommendations, Specsavers colleagues use personal protective equipment (PPE) throughout the stores, wear face masks and other PPE during tests, and all testing equipment and frames are thoroughly sanitised before and after each use.

Appointments need to be made in advance and there are also restrictions on the number of customers allowed in store at any one time, strict social distancing rules and, where possible, card instead of cash payments.

For more information or to request an appointment, you can either call Specsavers Hemel Hempstead on 01442 212141 or book an appointment online.