A mother is urging parents to ensure children have regular eye examinations after a test in Oakham revealed juvenile arthritis and saved her son’s sight.
Jane Macnaughton is an optometrist at the Leicester Royal Infirmary. When she took her 13-year-old son for his regular eye test he had no symptoms, was in no pain and experienced no irritation.
However, a routine eye test at Simmons Optometrists, in Oakham revealed iritis, an inflammation in his eye, which had it been undetected could have left him blind in one eye. The cause of the iritis has since been confirmed as juvenile arthritis.
When Alex was told his sight was under threat he immediately went to casualty where he was given steroid eye drops to control the inflammation. He now visits Leicester Royal Infirmary every couple of months and takes medication for his arthritis which prevents it worsening.
Jane, who lives in Scalford near Melton Mowbray, said: “There is no doubt that had we put off this eye examination longer than his regular check he could have developed long term complications that could have led to loss of sight in that eye.”
She praised Simmons Optometrists for the staff’s “specialist care and attention.”
Jane added: “We have had an extremely lucky escape and I just want parents out there to be aware that eye examinations for children are free and the importance of their sight, priceless.”
Jane said that Alex, a pupil at The King’s School in Grantham, had been suffering with inexplicable knee pain and swelling, which had been put down to growing pains after inconclusive tests.
Thanks to Simmons, he now sees a paediatric rheumatologist and takes anti- inflammatory drugs to manage his arthritis.
Alex said: “I had no idea about the condition, I wasn’t in any pain or discomfort. I just thought I was going for a regular check-up. It’s been annoying having to go to so many hospital appointments but I’m on the right medication now so when my knee swells I know what it is.”
It was the use of a slit lamp, a microscope used to examine the front of the eye, during Alex’s sight test that showed the iritis and without which a timely diagnosis would not have been possible.
Optometrist James Alexander, who owns the Simmons practice in Burley Road, Oakham, said: “We have the highest standards of care at Simmons and believe that if the technology is available then we must endeavour to provide it for all our patients, both children and adults.
“Regular eye check-ups are important not just for our eye health but to monitor our overall health.”
Children can have a free NHS sight test, and it is recommended to have their first test by the age of three.