Sioned Pritchard

Manchester University graduate praises Vision Express for sight-saving diagnosis after having first ever eye examination

For Sioned Pritchard, what started as her first ever eye test ended up in a sight-saving diagnosis by a Vision Express optometrist - just a few feet from where she works.

The 23-year old from Ancoats had been experiencing blurred vision, blotchiness of sight and slight headaches, but put off having an eye test assuming it wouldn’t be anything serious.

Suspecting a need for glasses, Sioned, a supervisor at Manchester Arndale’s Krispy Kreme, eventually decided to take time off work a for an appointment at her local Vision Express store just metres away from her workplace - a decision which has secured her sight for years to come.

Vision Express optometrist, Zaira Ayub gave Sioned a thorough eye test which included taking a picture of the back of her eye. However, upon examination Zaira was unable to see the optic nerve and immediately referred Sioned to Manchester Royal Eye Hospital, where she was seen the same day.

Sioned, originally from Caernarfon, Wales commented: “I’ve always had good eyesight so even after I started having blurred vision I delayed going for an eye test as I assumed it wouldn’t be anything serious. When Zaira immediately referred me to the Eye Hospital it was quite hard to process what was happening, so she showed me an example of what she should be seeing versus what she could see to explain why a second opinion was needed straight away.

“Having gone to Vision Express straight from work I quickly went home to get changed then went straight to the Hospital.”

Sioned underwent further testing including a brain scan at which point certain ‘nasties’ like brain clots were ruled out, but the neurologist’s tests were inconclusive.

With no clear diagnosis, Sioned was advised to be admitted overnight, which soon became a week-long hospital stay. A lumbar puncture was needed to provide more accurate results but as Sioned is allergic to local anesthetic, the procedure could not be performed.

Instead, Sioned was started on medication to treat her for Idiopathic Intercranial Hypertension (IIH) – a neurological condition of unknown cause defined by increased intracranial pressure (ICP) around the brain without the presence of tumour or disease.

“I couldn’t believe that an eye test could lead to a week-long stay in hospital and an issue with my brain!” Sioned added. “The side-effects of the medication I’m on aren’t pleasant and I can’t drink alcohol while taking it, so I’m having to get used to enjoying mocktails when I’m out now! Luckily, I’ve got a great support system around me, especially my boyfriend Paul who joined me from my home in Wales to live in Manchester.”

As it could be up to a year until Sioned’s medication takes effect and the pressure on her brain reduces, she will continue to have eye tests every four weeks to ensure that her condition is monitored closely.

Doctors at Manchester Royal Eye Hospital believe that Sioned could have had the IIH for years without her knowing as symptoms often go unnoticed. When symptoms are presented, this indicates a build-up of pressure, which if left untreated can cause blindness.

A Manchester University graduate in Public Policy, Sioned is now concentrating on regaining her full health before considering her future career and is urging others to prioritise their eye health by booking an eye test sooner rather than later.

“I’m so glad that I didn’t delay any further and went for my eye test when I did as otherwise I could be facing a very different outcome, she said. “I’ll forever be grateful to Zaira for referring me to hospital when she did – she was so thorough and professional and I often think that others might not have been so diligent in my care.”

Zaira Ayub, optometrist at Vision Express said: “It was very fortunate that Sioned decided to have her eyes tested when she did as any later and the pressure could have increased dramatically and impacted her sight for the rest of her life. It’s so important that people have regular eye tests as many vision-threatening conditions can also be symptomless and if left undiagnosed can be too late to treat.

“In most cases, simply having an eye examination can pick up unusual sight or even life-threatening conditions, which an optometrist can detect before symptoms occur.”

Vision Express offers an eye test to best practice guidelines of the College of Optometrists (COO), with each Vision Express optometrist being a qualified eye health professional.

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