20-year-old’s life saved by eye test during lockdown

A law student underwent potentially life and sight-saving surgery after an optometrist detected signs of  IIH and stage 4 papillodema – a serious health condition.

While the store is currently only open for essential and urgent care during the Covid-19 pandemic, when 20-year-old Holly Briggs explained she had been experiencing blurriness and black shadows in her vision, optometrist Sara Saunders scheduled for her to come in straightaway.

During a thorough eye examination, Sara detected abnormalities and immediately referred Miss Briggs to specialists at St James’s Hospital with suspected swelling on her optic discs. Miss Briggs underwent a series of tests at the hospital, where she was diagnosed with Idiopathic Intracranial Hypertension (IIH) with a stage 4 papilledema.

Idiopathic Intracranial Hypertension (IIH) is a condition with an unknown cause or causes. The condition is associated with raised fluid pressure around the brain and it can cause disabling daily headaches and visual loss, which can be permanent and, in some cases, can be fatal. After a day of testing and being rushed to surgery just nine hours later, Miss Briggs had a lumbar puncture to relieve pressure around her brain.

Miss Briggs said: ‘I personally can’t thank Sara at Specsavers enough. I visited Specsavers Otley in April when I was having problems with my vision, but I thought I just needed a new prescription for my glasses. Sara immediately referred me to hospital.

‘When I was told about the procedure I needed, I was calm, but also overwhelmed with everything that was happening. The operation saved my eyesight, and had I left it any longer before I went to the opticians, my eyesight would have been at great risk because of how high my brain pressure was. There are also complications with the condition that can cause death.

‘My advice would be to never leave anything too late and ignore symptoms. If something doesn’t feel right, just get it checked out. If I had waited any longer, I could be blind.’

Sara comments: ‘I’m really pleased to hear that treatment has gone well for Miss Briggs and the outcome has been extremely positive. The subsequent surgery was certainly life and sight-saving.

‘It goes to show just how important it is to have regular eye examinations. We recommend having your eyes tested at least every two years unless you have concerns about your sight, in which case it is advisable to book an appointment even sooner.’

Specsavers is currently only open for essential and urgent services. The teams are classed as key workers to provide urgent and essential eye care to those who need it. This includes supporting other key workers who couldn’t function without our help and people who would come to harm without our health expertise, especially where the usual hospital services and NHS facilities are being prioritised for the fight against COVID-19. 

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