AN OPTOMETRIST in Skipton helped spot and refer a young customer to hospital after finding swelling of the optic nerves on the back of both eyes while carrying out a routine test.

Ellie Harrison, 19, had gone to Specsavers with her mother for nothing else but a routine appointment. The eye test seemed entirely normal, but it was when optometrist, Pam Whiteley, finished up with a look inside Ellie’s eyes that she noticed a serious swollen optic nerve in both eyes.

The swelling is a sign of raised pressure in the head and can be caused by a number of things from relatively minor issues with fluid pressure around the brain to more sinister conditions like brain tumours.

Ms Whiteley said: ‘While Ellie seemed like an entirely happy and healthy youngster, it wasn’t until we put our screening technology to use that we needed to refer Ellie to the local Accident and Emergency department for further investigation immediately. Ellie’s mother, Jane was obviously upset and anxious so it was important to be supportive and talk them through proceedings.’

After attending the hospital, Ellie’s mum, Jane, said: ‘We went in to the store about a week later with flowers and a card for Pam as a thank you for picking up the problem. Ellie’s condition arose due to fluid around the brain, however after an initial lumbar puncture and drainage procedure it should be treatable with tablets. Although Ellie hadn’t been suffering from any symptoms relative to her eyes or head, she had been suffering from fatigue following a viral infection.”

Ms Whiteley added: ‘Ellie and her family were amazed at what can be found out about your general health from what can be thought of as just a ‘simple eye test’. They were really grateful to have access to examinations on the high street and have since been spreading the word to encourage more people to attend regularly.’