Vision Express

Staffordshire mum tells of life-saving eye test after rare syndrome detected

Press release   •   Sep 21, 2016 15:34 BST

A 33-year-old mother from Staffordshire is urging people to get their eyes checked after she was diagnosed with a serious health condition following an eye test, which, if left untreated, could have killed her.

Tina Harford was referred to hospital as a result of an optometrist at her local Vision Express store in Stafford picking up on signs of a rare and life-threatening disorder called Horner’s Syndrome.

Tina, who was pregnant at the time, knew something wasn’t quite right when she woke up one morning with problems in her left eye, but didn’t realise she had anything to worry about until visiting her local optician.

She explains: “The pupil in my left eye was constricted and my eyelid was drooping considerably when I woke up. I also had a headache so I decided to visit my optician to see if they could fit me in and luckily they did pretty much straight away.

“Even though I knew there was something wrong with my eye I wasn’t overly concerned. I just thought I’d slept awkwardly during the night. There weren’t any alarm bells ringing.

“The optometrist was really calm but she told me I needed to go to see a neurologist at the hospital straight away as I had symptoms of Horner’s Syndrome, which could have been a sign of something really serious.”

Horner’s Syndrome is a condition caused by an interruption in a set of nerves that go from the brain to the face and eyes. This can be as a result of a tumor in the brain, lungs or a stroke, to name a few causes, and while there is no treatment for the condition itself, it is important that it is recognised so that the cause can be determined and treated.

Tina urgently underwent an MRI at the Royal Stoke University Hospital where it was discovered that the carotid artery in her neck, which is the main artery into the brain, had torn and a blood clot had developed.

A tear in the carotid artery can result in a massive haemorrhage and, it is reported, can lead to death within a matter of minutes in a third of cases. Those who survive are frequently left handicapped.

Tina said: “I stayed in hospital for approximately a week while they carried out tests and started treatment. It is really rare for this artery to tear – only 1 in 100,000 cases – and it would likely have gone unnoticed if it weren’t for Vision Express.

“I had to undergo over a year’s worth of treatment with daily injections to thin my blood. If doctors had operated on the artery straight away, it could have caused a catastrophic stroke. Luckily the injections worked, breaking down the clot and repairing the artery so I didn’t need an operation. Although the artery remains partially collapsed, the other part has rerouted itself into the brain again.”

Tina added that she couldn’t thank Vision Express enough for recognising the danger signs during her eye test – even more so as she was three months pregnant.

She said: “Obviously it was a real worry for me because they told me I was going to have to deliver my baby early because of the treatment I needed. If I’d have had a normal labour, there was a serious risk of brain injury.

“My little girl, who’s now two and a half years old, had to be delivered at 38 weeks but she is perfectly healthy.”

Vision Express Stafford store director Nicola Ratchford said: “Tina’s story shows how important it is to see an optician regularly. Her condition is extremely rare, but the outcome is positive thanks to Tina doing the right things by coming in to get an eye test as soon as the worrying symptoms occurred.”

“Any significant change in sight, such as blurring, floaters or loss of vision need to be checked out without delay. Whatever condition may be detected, the earlier it is identified, the sooner it can be managed and the better potential outcome.”

Vision Express is urging the public to take sight seriously and is offering a free eye test to everyone in the UK throughout September. The initiative aims to tackle a worsening outlook for eye health, following research revealing that over 2 million people in the UK are living with sight loss. For 53% of these, a simple sight test and new glasses could make all the difference.

The free eye test is available via an online voucher that can be downloaded on the Vision Express website. The voucher can be redeemed until the end of October 2016 at any of approximately 400 Vision Express stores across the UK.

To reinforce its commitment to eye health, Vision Express has also commissioned its Vision Van for a third consecutive year. Debuted during National Eye Health Week 2014, the large mobile unit is equipped with the very latest eye testing technology. It will take to the streets during September in eye health ‘hotspots’ and is open for testing from 10am to 5pm. The tour will visit:

  • Monday 19th September Portsmouth (Site 3, The Plaza, Gunwharf Quays Shopping Centre, Portsmouth, PO1 3TZ)
  • Tuesday 20th September Swindon (Wharf Green, Canal Walk, Swindon, SN1 1LD)
  • Wednesday 21st September Swansea (Princess Way, Castle Square)
  • Thursday 22nd September Leicester (St. Peter’ Square, 8 Bath House Lane, Leicester, LE1 4SA)
  • Friday 23rd September Leeds (Briggate, Leeds, LS1 6LX)

Last year 85% of people tested on the Vision Van needed a new prescription, and one in 10 was referred to a GP because something was spotted that needed further medical attention. One in six had never had an eye test.

Vision Express offers an eye test to best practice guidelines of the College of Optometrists (COO), with each Vision Express optometrist being a qualified eye health professional. To book an eye test visit the Vision Express store at the Guildhall Centre, Stafford, call 01785 215 077 or visit

To find out more about Vision Express activity during National Eye Health Week visit:

About Vision Express

Vision Express is the third largest optical retailer in the UK and part of GrandVision,the global leader in optical retail operating across 43 countries, spanning over 6,000 stores and online.

With more than 390 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.

Vision Express is considered one of the leading and most trusted opticians in the UK and Ireland, with its European offering supported through sister eye care brands Grand Optical, Solaris and Generale D'Optique.

With around 4,000 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 Charitable Partnerships and include: