One Sheffield teen might not be alive today if she didn't visit her local optometrist to get a visual checkup.
Niamh Kane, 14, had been experiencing continuous headaches for a few weeks. Although migraines run in Kane's family, her parents thought her headaches might be due to vision problems.
Kane's parents eventually scheduled an eye exam with an optometrist at Vision Express Meadowhall. While the optometrist was examining Kane's eyes, she noticed an abnormal growth in Kane's optic nerve.
Considering Kane's frequent headaches, the optometrist recommended Kane visit a specialist. Kane immediately booked an appointment two weeks later at the Sheffield Children's Hospital.
The specialist discovered that Kane was suffering from hydrocephalus, which refers to an excessive buildup of fluid in the brain. This condition was caused by a benign brain tumor.
The experts at Sheffield Children's Hospital recommended taking immediate action to remove pressure in Kane's brain. Kane decided to undergo a more serious surgery that would require no follow-up procedures.
Thankfully, Kane's 15-minute procedure was a great success. She was actually able to sit up and eat a bacon sandwich only two hours after the surgery.
Niamh Kane went home in the evening and went back to school just three weeks later. When Kane returned to Vision Express for an eye checkup, the optometrist found that Kane had 20/20 vision. Although the tumor is still in Kane's brain, it is totally benign and will not cause any future problems.
Kane's parents and teachers noticed a huge difference in Kane's demeanor after the surgery. Interestingly, Kane's grades in school have only gone up in the months following her operation. Kane told reporters that she wants to pursue a career in either healthcare or medicine.
Iain Kane, Niamh's father, said he's incredibly grateful for the Vision Express optician who saved his daughter's life. Iain also said that he advises "anyone to have regular eye tests, even if you think your vision is perfect."
Alana Reid, Vision Express Meadowhall's store manager, said everyone should learn from Niamh's incredible story. Reid went on to say that many visual symptoms could reveal serious underlying health problems.
Many of the most debilitating eye diseases present no symptoms until it's too late for doctors to operate. A few of these diseases include glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy, and age-related macular degeneration. While people over 40 are more likely to develop these diseases, younger patients aren't immune from eye complications. For example, pigmentary glaucoma affects young men and can lead to blindness if not caught early enough.
In addition to eye diseases, a routine eye exam can reveal general health problems, opticians can let patients know whether or not they are borderline diabetics or have a case of high blood pressure.