0800 612 9890

Eye Test Saves Schoolgirls Life

Wednesday, 07 April 2010

A ROUTINE eye examination has saved local schoolgirl Caitlin Starbuck from a potentially fatal medical condition.

Caitlin, 10, from Morley had been suffering from severe headaches, uncontrollable shaking in her hands and chronic fatigue for several weeks.  However, a series of medical tests all came back normal and doctors were unable to diagnose her worsening condition. 

When Caitlin's vision started to be affected, her parents booked her an appointment at Specsavers in Morley, where optometrist Mark Richardson conducted a field test to measure her central and peripheral vision.  In addition to Caitlin failing the simple visual test, Mark discovered swelling at the back of her eye and immediately referred her to the Accident & Emergency Department of St James' Hospital in Leeds.

Mark, the store director at Morley Specsavers, explains: 'It's rare for someone to fail the field test and our concern was that there might be an underlying problem - especially when Mrs Starbuck described his daughter's headaches and fatigue.  Further examination identified significant pressure on the optic nerve and we felt that it was imperative for further medical tests to be conducted.'

Following MRI and CAT scans, the cause of the pressure on Caitlin's optic was identified as hydrocephalus - the build up of fluid on the brain - which was causing extreme swelling and cranial pressure.

Caitlin underwent two emergency operations at Leeds General Infirmary to drain away the build up of fluid and is now well on the way to a full recovery.   She is now back at school, where teachers have noticed a significant improvement in her performance.

Caitlin's father, Ian Starbuck says: 'Although we never expected Caitlin to be referred for an MRI scan following a trip to the opticians, we could not be more grateful to Specsavers for saving our little girl's life.

'We knew there was something wrong with Caitlin, but no one could provide us with any answers.  Her condition was deteriorating every day - she was becoming increasingly fatigued, asking to go to bed at 5pm and the shaking and headaches were becoming unbearable for her.

'Our doctors ran a series of tests, but they all came back normal.  It was only when she complained that her vision was being affected that we took her to Specsavers.

'I suppose, like most people, we hadn't realised that eye tests could save lives.  We'd definitely recommend regular check ups as if it hadn't been for Specsavers, Caitlin's condition could have proved fatal.'

Louise Hardy, fellow store director at Specsavers in Morley, says: 'It's fortunate that Caitlin came in for an eye test when she did, as her condition was progressing quite rapidly and could have eventually reached a life-threatening stage.

'Unfortunately it's a very common misconception that an eye test purely measures how good your eye sight is and we're campaigning hard to educate people on the benefits.  What people don't realise is that in an examination, lasting just 30 minutes, your optician is also looking out for signs of serious medical conditions such as diabetes, hypertension and myeloid leukaemia, through to blood disorders, tumours and fluid on the brain as we've seen in Caitlin's case. 

'I cannot stress how important it is for people to have their eyes tested regularly - at least every two years.'

Caitlin adds: 'I'd like to say a big thank you to everybody at Specsavers.  Being so ill was really scary, especially as no one knew what was wrong with me.  I feel so much better now and it's great to be back at school with all my friends.'




Specsavers notes to editors                                                           

 March 2010             

  • Specsavers was founded by Doug and Dame Mary Perkins in 1984 and is now the largest privately owned opticians in the world
  • The couple still run the company, along with their three children. Their son John is joint managing director
  • Specsavers has more than 1,500 stores throughout the UK, Ireland, the Netherlands, Sweden, Norway, Finland, Denmark, Spain, Australia and New Zealand.
  • Annual turnover for the Specsavers Group is forecast to reach a record £1.4 billion in 2009/10
  • Specsavers optical stores and hearing centres are owned and run by joint venture or franchise partners
  • Specsavers employs more than 26,000 staff
  • Specsavers was voted Britain's most trusted brand of opticians for the ninth year running by the Reader's Digest Trusted Brands survey 2010
  • More than one in three people who wear glasses in the UK buy them from Specsavers * - 9,700,000 glasses were exported from the warehouse to stores in 2009
  • Specsavers was ranked No 1 for both eye tests and glasses in the UK *
  • Over 70% (4.5m) of all Specsavers eye tests in the UK are NHS-funded.
  • Specsavers share by volume of the total optical market (including retailers that are not opticians) is 34%. Our share of the opticians market is 39%.*
  • Specsavers is the largest retail provider of home delivery contact lenses in Europe and one of the top two retail suppliers of continuous wear lenses in the world
  • Specsavers is now the largest retail dispenser of digital hearing aids in the UK and offers a hearing service from more than 400 locations
  • Specsavers supports numerous optical and hearing charities, including Guide Dogs and Hearing Dogs for Deaf People. During its three-year support for Diabetes UK it raised more than £250,000 to fund research into diabetic retinopathy
  • Since 2003 more than a quarter of a million glasses have been collected and recycled by Specsavers stores for Vision Aid Overseas, for use in developing countries. Specsavers stores across Britain raised more than £300,000 in 2009 to fund a dedicated eyecare clinic and teaching facility in Zambia, supported by Vision Aid Overseas. Stores will raise an additional £300,000 to continue the project.


*GfK NOP