Vision Express has revealed its new Burgess Hill store, with help from local childhood eye cancer survivors – two-year-old Hunter Hill and his mum, Louise.
Diagnosed with a hereditary form of the rare eye cancer, retinoblastoma, when she was a young child, Louise Hill was left with just 10% vision in one eye and only light perception in the other.
Due to the family history, both she and her husband Robert were understandably worried when their son Hunter was born in September 2014. “There was always a 50% chance he would have it so he was tested straight away,” Louise explained.
At just one week old, Hunter was diagnosed with retinoblastoma and he immediately started treatment, undergoing 18 months of laser therapy and chemotherapy to target the tumours before they could fully develop.
Now, Louise and Robert take Hunter, who turns three in September, for three-monthly check-ups to monitor his eyes. His condition is stable and has been for the past 18 months but the family will have to wait until he is around five years old, after the retina has fully developed, to find out whether his sight will be permanently damaged by his treatment.
“He has been through a lot but he is very resilient and strong - he’s a very brave little boy,” Louise added. “His cancer It was picked up very early and things are going well at the moment, so we will just have to wait and see.”
“People get scared when they hear the words eye cancer but it can be treated,” Louise explained. “It is so important for parents to be aware of the signs of retinoblastoma so that it can be picked up as soon as possible, and treatment can start immediately.”
Louise and Hunter, along with Robert and Hunter’s five-month-old brother Roman, were invited as special guests to represent CHECT and perform an official ribbon cutting, as Vision Express unveiled its new store on Church Road.
Burgess Hill store manager Jayni Patel said: “Hunter is so courageous, especially considering what he’s gone through at such a young age. Having him and his family with us to celebrate the opening of our new store was an honour.
“Our launch event has been a great opportunity to raise awareness of retinoblastoma and the symptoms to look out for. Many people don’t realise how vital regular eye tests are to detect serious conditions as well as sight defects.”
Patrick Tonks, chief executive of the Childhood Eye Cancer Trust, said: “Retinoblastoma is a rare and fast-growing eye cancer that affects babies and young children, mainly under the age of six. It can either impact one or both eyes and there are around 50-60 cases diagnosed in the UK every year – approximately one child a week.
“A diagnosis of retinoblastoma has a major impact on the whole family as well as the baby or child and so it is lovely for Hunter and his family to be able to share their story and open the Vision Express store. Our greatest thanks go to the Hill family for their work in raising awareness of childhood eye cancer.”
The national optical retailer has enjoyed an award-winning partnership with CHECT since 2010, using initiatives to raise awareness of retinoblastoma (Rb) and drive donations for the charity, so they can help more families affected. Vision Express was also the first optician in the UK to roll out a protocol to ensure a quick and effective referral if Rb is suspected.
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 at the Burgess Hill store call 01444 232402, visit 35 Church Rd, Burgess Hill RH15 9BB or make an online enquiry at: www.visionexpress.com/book-eye-test/
For more information on retinoblastoma please visit www.chect.org.uk
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 400 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 4,500 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