daughter and dad

Pre-reg saves her own father’s sight

Derek Begley narrowly avoided permanent sight loss after mentioning a sore eye to his daughter, who happens to be training at Specsavers. 

Victoria Begley, a pre-registration optometrist in Cheshire Oaks, made her usual phone call to her dad, on the way home from work on a Friday evening. Derek said he had been experiencing a soreness in his eye for a few days, but hadn’t paid it much attention as it always seemed to feel better in the morning. But after he asked a few questions over the phone, alarm bells rang for Victoria and she told her dad he might need urgent attention.

Victoria said: ‘At first when Dad mentioned a sore eye, I wondered if he had some nerve swelling. I asked a few questions about his vision and asked him to do a couple of diagnostic tests to rule out a couple of issues. But when he mentioned his vision seemed foggy and he could see halos around objects, I began to suspect angle closure glaucoma.’

This type of glaucoma rapidly increases pressure in the eye and the consequences can be sudden and severe, including permanent damage to the optic nerve causing irreversible sight loss.

Victoria acted quickly and called Specsavers in Runcorn to arrange to bring her dad in. Since she isn’t fully qualified yet, a senior optician was waiting to oversee the examination, and together they agreed that Victoria’s suspicions were correct. As a result, Victoria took Derek straight to A&E, where the on-call ophthalmologist was waiting to provide drops and medication to reduce the pressure in Derek’s eye and arrange for further treatment the next morning.

Derek says: ‘Once I had spoken to Victoria, everything moved really fast. When I mentioned a sore eye, I didn’t really suspect anything serious, so to be at A&E within a few hours was quite a surprise.

‘I took the drops and medication overnight and returned to the hospital the next morning, where the ophthalmologist told me that the pressure in my eye hadn’t reduced at all. In the meantime my sight was becoming worse in my affected eye and the pain was hard to ignore.’

Derek underwent a laser treatment called a YAG laser peripheral iridotomy to create a small opening in his iris to allow the built-up fluid to drain away. This provided relief and since the treatment, his sight has steadily improved and the pain has gone away.

‘I feel extremely lucky that this was spotted in time and so grateful to Victoria and to Specsavers in general for their help and support,’ he says. ‘This could have been a really different story if I hadn’t mentioned my eye pain to Victoria and waited for the symptoms to get worse.’

Ellie Mitchell, optometrist director at Specsavers in Cheshire Oaks adds: ‘I’ve got no doubt that Victoria’s actions saved her dad’s sight. Angle closure glaucoma is an incredibly serious, time-sensitive and vision threatening eye condition, and we couldn’t be prouder of Victoria for trusting her instincts and taking decisive action.’

In line with NHS recommendations and Public Health guidance, safety measures are in place, including restrictions on the number of customers allowed in store at any one-time, social distancing, and bank card payments instead of cash, where possible.

Our colleagues use Type IIR masks as well as other personal protective equipment (PPE) throughout the stores and frames are thoroughly sanitised before and after each use.

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