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Rutland man promotes National Eye Health Week after his eye test picked up a tumour

A man has praised the health professionals who saved his life after they spotted a tumour during a routine eye test.

John Brian had no unusual symptoms when he attended an appointment at Simmons Optometrists, but just hours later he was sitting with a hospital consultant in Peterborough.

The £25 digital imaging test he paid for that morning had picked up a raised area on his retina which turned out to be a choroidal melanoma.

Optometrist James Alexander and John Brian
Optometrist James Alexander and John Brian

Within weeks he was treated at the Royal Hallamshire Hospital in Sheffield and is now on the road to recovery, with the tumour having already shrunk to half its size.

Mr Brian, who lives in Cottesmore with his wife Chur Yue, said he owes his life to optometrist James Alexander.

He said: "After taking the pictures, James was looking at the screen for a while and when I was referred to the hospital so quickly I knew something wasn’t right.

Optometrist James Alexander and John Brian look at the digital images which picked up a tumour
Optometrist James Alexander and John Brian look at the digital images which picked up a tumour

“I thank God for this man, the consultants and all the people who have been praying for me.”

The optomap machine which picked up the tumour uses digital retinal imaging to see around 80 per cent of the back of the eye.

James said: “Eye tests are not just about vision but about other aspects of health and this technology allows us to see significantly more of the back of the eye than we can do in a normal test.

“This kind of problem is incredibly rare, but there are other things we can pick up like diabetes and vascular problems.

"The machine allows us to see the blood vessels clearly where conditions like that would show up first.”

Mr Brian, 73, was in hospital for five days to undergo treatment.

Medics used a ruthenium plaque with fits over the eye and uses radioactivity to destroy the cells.

It will continue to shrink the tumour for 18 months.

Mr Brian attends St George’s Church in Stamford and also volunteers for the chaplaincy service at Stamford Hospital.

He said: “It has been a challenge going through all of this, but now when I meet people in the hospital I can appreciate the situation a lot better. It has enabled me to connect better with them."

Ahead of National Eye Health Week next week, the team at Simmons Optometrists in Burley Road, Oakham, are urging people to get their eyes tested.

Mr Brian has backed their campaign.

He said: “I would absolutely recommend people get regular eye tests. People need to be conscious of their health.

“Something like this makes you appreciate life more and encourages you to live each day to the full.

“It’s a wake-up call to not take things for granted.”

The optomap machine in one of only 100 currently used in the UK. It is not part of a standard eye test but costs an additional £25.

Read more news from the Rutland and Stamford Mercury.

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