Grandmother’s warning: ‘Take care of your eyes’

Berry Parker who was diagnosed with advanced glaucoma during a regular eye test. Berry having a mock eye test with locum optometrist Nilesh Keshav. By David Dawson
Berry Parker who was diagnosed with advanced glaucoma during a regular eye test. Berry having a mock eye test with locum optometrist Nilesh Keshav. By David Dawson
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A Stamford grandmother who became blind in her left eye after failing to take eye drops following cataract surgery is urging people to make sure they “look after their eye health” and ensure they have “regular eye tests”.

For three decades, retired cardiac nurse, Berry Parker, 56, suffered with sight defects including intermediate uveitis, an inflammation of the middle layer of the eye and cataracts.

The proud mother of three sons and six grandchildren, was diagnosed with advanced glaucoma following an eye test at Vision Express Stamford and then had cataract surgery.

Within 12 month of her glaucoma diagnosis, Berry lost her vision after failing to take the prescribed amount of eyedrops and was suffering agonising pain.

Now during National Eye Health Week, Berry is warning others to look after their eyesight.

“To this day I can’t believe my stupidity at not taking my drops when I should following my cataract surgery, and not attending my eye appointments,” Berry said.

“I would now urge others to make sure they look after their eye health and go for regular eye tests.

“Now, I go to Vision Express for a check up every six months to ensure that I look after my right eye as much as I can – I’m going to be sensible, do as I’m told and keep my remaining vision until I die as it is truly the worst sense to lose.”

Berry had sight problems since she was 21 but put off going to the opticians for a long time as she said she “lead such a busy life”.

She said: “After realising vision in my left eye was failing, I couldn’t delay any longer and booked an appointment. I knew that I’d been a bit lapse at taking my prescribed eye drops after my cataract surgery, which I was given to control my pressures, but I had no idea that my eye health could suffer so dramatically as a result.

“When I was told that I was losing my sight I was completely shocked.

Now under the care of Moorfields Eye Hospital in London, a long-term plan has been developed for Berry to avoid further surgery on her left eye.

One option is to use a bandage contact lens to protect her eye and make it more comfortable. Disc changes have also been found in her right eye, which can be an early sign of glaucoma, so she is currently on medication to protect the eye from further deterioration.

Jemma Shevlin, store manager at Vision Express on High Street, Stamford said: “It is really sad that Berry lost the vision in her left eye. In general, glaucoma cannot be cured but it can be controlled.

“In Berry’s case, if she had taken her eye drops regularly and attended regular eye examinations to detect the glaucoma’s progression then she would more than likely have kept the sight in her left eye.

“Glaucoma doesn’t always have noticeable symptoms so it is important that you have regular eye tests to get pressures checked and allow any issues to be treated and managed as efficiently as possible. National Eye Health Week incorporates a specific day dedicated to raising awareness of glaucoma as the condition is the biggest, preventable cause of sight loss in the UK and although it is associated mainly with the older generation, it can affect anyone of any age.”

Originally from Nottingham, Berry is marrying fiancé Malcom next June at Gladstone Library, London with a reception on a River Thames boat.

Berry said: “Now that I am free from pain I feel like I have my life back.

“I’m planning my wedding, enjoying spending time with my grandchildren and throwing myself into my hobbies which include photography, reading and knitting.”

As part of National Eye Health Week, which runs until Sunday, Vision Express has been taking its Vision Van to eye health hotspots across the UK.

To find out more visit: www.visionexpress.com/national-eye-health-week/