There's no doubt that children with reduced vision benefit from regular eye testing. But eye tests can also highlight more serious health conditions in people — whatever their age.

 

A life-saving examination

 

For instance, Sophie, a 14-year-old from Hull, had been complaining of headaches behind her eyes for a number of months; so her grandmother, Petula, took her to their local Specsavers.

Sophie had never had an eye examination before, but the optician reassured her and explained more about the tests that would be needed, including some initial checks and a retinal scan. Once the results appeared, Sophie was given an urgent referral to the eye department at Hull Royal Infirmary.

 

Diagnosis and medication

 

She attended the hospital with her parents, Lianne and Peter, where further investigations revealed increased swelling and pressure in Sophie’s head. After an immediate transfer to the children’s ward for further tests, Sophie was diagnosed with Intracranial Hypertension, a build-up of fluid which causes pressure on the eyes and brain.

If left untreated, the condition could be fatal.

“At first we didn’t think anything of it, but when we were told something wasn’t right, I felt sick,” said Petula. “On the way back from the hospital after Sophie was diagnosed we were all completely silent, we were stunned.” Just days later doctors performed a lumbar puncture to drain the fluid and relieve the pressure in Sophie’s head.

Sophie is now on medication for life, and needs monthly check ups at the hospital for the foreseeable future. Both her breathing and hearing may be affected, and in the future she may also have to have to have a shunt fitted in her brain. Yet that visit to the opticians may have saved her life.