Vision Express

Charity ambassador shares story of battle with rare Stargardt disease during opening of new Stourbridge optician

Press release   •   Mar 14, 2018 11:24 GMT

The new ‘Vision Express at Tesco’ store in Stourbridge has officially opened its doors, with a celebration led by charity representative, Amanda Read – who has lost her sight due to Stargardt disease.

Macular Society representative Amanda was on hand to help cut the ribbon on the premises, which is home to sophisticated sight screening equipment, to deliver a thorough eye health service to local residents.

Amanda has been involved with the Macular Society for almost 15 years, becoming a regional manager just over four years ago. She decided to work with the charity after it supported her when she was diagnosed with the rare disease, Stargardt Macular Dystrophy in 2004, when she was 23 years old. There is currently no treatment and she is now visually impaired in both eyes.

“I was showing off to my work colleagues one day that I could see really well but when I covered up my right eye, I couldn’t see the wall in front of me - I hadn’t realised that my right eye had been compensating for my left,” explained Amanda. “I was getting regular eye tests at the time, and wore glasses to drive, but without noticing, I had lost the sight in my left eye in just six months.

“The Macular Society provided so much support and help when I was diagnosed. My GP told me I would never meet someone else with Stargardt but with just one call to the charity helpline, I was put in touch with another lady with the condition. After being diagnosed, I didn’t know what the future would hold, especially in my early 20s, but speaking to her helped me to rebuild it.”

In the borough of Dudley of which Stourbridge is a part of, over 1,400 residents are affected by age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and over 10,000 – 11% of the local population - have a heightened risk of developing the condition due to drusen - yellow deposits under the retina.

Amanda concluded: “At the Macular Society we always recommend having regular eye tests, maintaining a healthy diet rich in leafy vegetables, and we try to discourage smoking.” Statistics show people who smoke are at least three times more likely to develop AMD than non-smokers.

“An eye test could pick up age-related conditions before you might notice any symptoms – people often don’t know they have a macula until something goes wrong, by which time it’s often too late to treat.

“The partnership with Vision Express is beneficial as it’s so important to get the message out there about looking after your eye health before anything happens, and if you notice sudden changes, get to an optician. Wet AMD can be treated but early detection is vital and a sight test can pick up any symptoms.”

Vision Express at Tesco Stourbridge store manager Michelle Wills said: “It’s fantastic to have Amanda join the team to officially open our new store.

“We’re here to help residents ensure their vision is the best it can be, and Amanda’s experience, as well as the partnership between Vision Express and the Macular Society, demonstrates the importance of looking after your eye health.

“We have over 100 ways to test your eyes, to assess how they’re working and help detect serious conditions such as high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes and increased risk of stroke. It’s great that Vision Express is now in such a convenient location for local residents to drop in and get this essential health check.”

The Stourbridge optical store is one of more than 200 ‘Vision Express at Tesco’ outlets launching across the UK in 2018 and showcases a purple-infused rebrand being introduced across the entire Vision Express chain.

Introducing a refreshed logo and striking purple and green colour décor the new stores feature bright sofas and wooden flooring, delivering a modern, inviting and vibrant environment to encourage customers to feel at ease.

Vision Express’ acquired Tesco Opticians at the end of 2017. In preparation for the expected increase in demand for frames prompted by the acquisition, a £1.5 million investment has been made at Vision Express’ Nottingham-based Technical Centre.

The national home of Vision Express’ laboratory, the Technical Centre currently produces more than one million pairs of glasses a year but following the investment, production capacity is expected to double during 2018.

Vision Express CEO Jonathan Lawson added: “This is a hugely exciting time for the Vision Express family, and we’re delighted to welcome new team members to the company and provide a seamless eye health service to former Tesco optical customers. Crucially, we’re pleased to now be able to offer our vision expertise in a convenient location to residents.”

About Vision Express

Vision Express is one of the largest optical retailers in the UK and part of GrandVision, the global leader in optical retail operating in more than 40 countries, spanning over 6,500 stores and online.

With almost 600 stores nationwide, Vision Express first opened its doors in Newcastle in 1988. Built on a passion for the profession, it has gone from strength to strength, driven by a commitment to unparalleled customer service and providing the best individual optical care, the right product and great value. Customers can select from a vast range of genuine designer brands and the latest technology lenses, through to complete glasses from £39.

With around 6,000 employees, Vision Express makes a significant difference to the communities it operates within, and the organisations it chooses to support. As part of its commitment to Vision. Taken Seriously, and as a responsible and caring retailer, Vision Express is proud to partner with a range of healthcare charities, which have touched the lives of customers and teams. These companies provide vital support to people affected by vision-related conditions. They are part of the Vision Express Charity Project and include:

  • Childhood Eye Cancer Trust (CHECT)
  • International Glaucoma Association
  • Macular Society
  • Stroke Association
  • Temple Street University Hospital
  • Brake