Sight loss following tree-surgery fall

A 63-year-old man from Epping Forest, Essex has praised his optometrist after he identified signs of a serious eye condition and helped save him from potentially permanent sight loss during first lockdown. 

Retiree John Brotherton noticed obstructions in his sight following a nasty fall. Having climbed a ladder in effort to cut a tree back outside of his house, John lost balance and fell from around 6 foot, hitting his head. 

‘At first, I didn’t notice any problems with my eyesight. I’d broken my arm and was pre-occupied with the pain. I knew I had hit my head too but I didn’t notice anything else to worry about. It was around three weeks later that I began experiencing problems with my eyes, first seeing flashing lights at the sides of my vision,’ John said. 

‘I’d thought they might pass, but the following morning, it had got worse. The flashes kept on happening, and I also had further symptoms, like a cobweb effect over my eyesight, or as if a veil had been put over them. That’s when I knew I had to get help.’ 

John phoned Specsavers in Dagenham and was given an emergency appointment with optometrist and store director, Gurjit Sehmi. 

Gurjit said: ‘It was an immediate cause for concern when John explained his symptoms, but given John’s recent fall too, I knew it was urgent.  

‘With any fall or traumatic event to the head, weak areas of the retina can come away and tear, or nerves that control the eyes can also become damaged – when John explained a recent onset of flashes and floaters in his vision, I had good indication that he was dealing with retinal tear.’ 

John visited for his appointment, where having dilated his pupils, Gurjit was able to carry out an in-depth examination of John’s retina using specialist equipment. Identifying a retinal tear, Gurjit referred John to his local hospital. 

‘On examination, I noticed there was a tear in the far peripheral retina, so I contacted the hospital immediately. Left untreated, a tear can lead to a retinal detachment which can cause severe visual disruption and even permanent sight loss. So it needed to be treated as soon as possible.’ 

Gurjit was able to book John in for an appointment in Queens Hospital in Romford the same day, where he received two rounds of successful corrective laser eye surgery to hold the retina in place. 

Returning for a post-treatment check-up, John was found to be healing well with no sight loss. 

John said: ‘The hospital confirmed that I was suffering from a retinal tear, and if not dealt with quickly, it left me with a high risk of sight loss – fortunately, we’d got there with enough time. 

‘I can’t thank Gurjit and the team enough. Specsavers were the first port of call when I realised I needed help, and they were very professional and knew the answers. 

‘I felt safe, secure and clean in-store. The staff were all wearing PPE and disinfecting the equipment in front of me. 

‘I’d urge anyone to contact their local optician whenever they have any problems or questions to do with their eye health. It can make all the difference – and they have far more expertise than you think.’ 

Gurjit added: ‘The reason we remain open for urgent and essential care through lockdown is for customers like John. Access to professional eye care services remains vital, and many would be at risk without it – particularly during periods when the NHS is under particular stress.’ 

Customers are being encouraged to call rather than walk-in if they need urgent support with a visual problem, or if they have issues with their glasses or contact lenses. 

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