Brain condition is spotted by eye test

Caitlin Hammond and Specsavers optometry director Bijal Ladva. EMN-170505-170239001
Caitlin Hammond and Specsavers optometry director Bijal Ladva. EMN-170505-170239001

A mum is urging parents to get their children’s eyes checked regularly after a routine test revealed a serious issue in her daughter’s brain.

Twelve-year-old Caitlin Hammond, from Sleaford, was diagnosed with Idiopathic Intracranial Hypertension (IIH), after her optometrist referred her straight to hospital.

Mum Alison said: “Caitlin has astigmatism, so has her eyes tested every six months anyway. She hadn’t complained of any symptoms that might have led us to think anything was wrong before the appointment, so as far as we were concerned she was in good health.”

During Caitlin’s eye test, thanks to special imaging software, Specsavers optometry director Bijal Ladva noticed that her optic discs were swollen – an indication of an underlying condition.

He referred her immediately to Lincoln County Hospital Eye Clinic, where further tests diagnosed the root of the swelling.

“I was beside myself because the consultant told us that it could be a brain tumour,” continued Alison.

After two days, Caitlin was diagnosed with paediatric IIH, meaning she has pressure on her brain caused by a neurological dysfunction mimicking the symptoms of a brain tumour. She was given a lumbar puncture to relieve the pressure.

“Caitlin’s intracranial pressure was measuring 28, while a normal person should be around 20,” explained Alison. “She was given a lumbar puncture while awake and was so brave, even when they had to reposition it.

“She has been for several more appointments and put on medication to manage the condition. Her prognosis is very positive and she is recovering well.

“We are very grateful to the team at Specsavers in Sleaford, and would urge everyone to have regular eye tests – you never know what they might uncover.”

Mr Ladva at Specsavers in Sleaford said: “‘It is such a relief to know that Caitlin is in recovery and her prognosis is so positive.

“It is always difficult when you notice a potentially serious problem with patients, but thankfully in this case we managed to spot it as early as possible to ensure that Caitlin received treatment quickly.

“It is a testament to Caitlin’s mum Alison, that she has always had her family checked on a regular basis. We would like to see more members of the community follow her example, and this case highlights just how important regular tests are in spotting any anomalies and getting them treated sooner rather than later.”

Alison added: “I want to get the message out there about the importance of having a regular eye test.

“Most people think it’s about getting your prescription checked, but it’s so much more than that; it’s about your overall health.

“Without her appointment, we wouldn’t have known anything was wrong with Caitlin because she had none of the usual symptoms of IIH.

“I would encourage everyone to make sure that they are getting checked every two years as a minimum.”