Grace Holmes was just one when she had her left eye removed after being diagnosed with the rare eye cancer retinoblastoma in both of her eyes.
Grace’s dad, Andy Holmes, said: “Grace’s condition was picked up just a few days before Christmas in 2010. We noticed she had a lazy eye so we took her to the doctors, who referred us to see an optician at the hospital. She was then sent straight to Moorfields Eye Hospital where she was diagnosed.
“Grace had to have her left eye removed immediately but she had a few tumours in her right eye, so she had to have chemotherapy as well.”
Although Grace has relapsed twice since the rare condition was detected, undergoing more chemotherapy and treatment, she is now doing well.
Grace was guest of honour and performed a ribbon cutting to launch Vision Express Edgware store’s newly refurbished premises. She was chosen to represent the Childhood Eye Cancer Trust (CHECT) after winning a Christmas card competition run by the charity in December 2016.
A nominated charity of Vision Express, CHECT raises awareness of retinoblastoma, also known as Rb. Around 50 to 60 cases of Rb are diagnosed each year and while 90% of those diagnosed will survive, they may face having an eye removed.
Andy, a local lorry driver, said: “Grace was really excited to take part and cut the ribbon. You don’t tend to see lots of information around retinoblastoma so I think events such as these, where we can raise a bit of awareness for the condition, are so important.
“If I had known before Grace was diagnosed that the condition can be picked up by spotting a white reflection in the eye in photographs, I would have taken her straight to the hospital.”
Grace and her dad were welcomed into the new look Edgware optician, located in The Broadwalk Centre, by manager Anika Upadhyay and the rest of the store team, which has over 40 years of combined optical experience.
Anika said: “We were so happy to welcome Grace into the store to help us celebrate, but to also help raise awareness of such a rare and aggressive disease.
“It is crucial to have regular eye tests and with our upgraded facilities and state-of-the-art examining equipment, we can continue to deliver an individual and thorough vision care service to the local community.”
Vision Express has enjoyed an award-winning partnership with CHECT since 2010, using initiatives to raise awareness and drive donations for the charity, so they can help more families affected.
It was the first optician in the UK to roll out a protocol to ensure a quick and effective referral if retinoblastoma is suspected. Employees and customers of Vision Express have raised around £300,000 since the partnership was forged and recently presented a cheque for £45,000 to the charity.
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 Edgware store call 020 8905 7670, visit 6b, The Broadwalk Centre, The Mall Broadwalk, Station Rd, Edgware HA8 7BD 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 the third largest optical retailer in the UK and part of GrandVision, the global leader in optical retail, operating across 44 countries and spanning 6,100 stores and online. GrandVision is committed to delivering superior, high quality and affordable eye care to more and more people around the world.
With almost 390 stores nationwide, Vision Express first opened its doors in Newcastle in 1988. Since then it has gone from strength to strength, driven by a commitment to unparalleled customer service and providing the best personalised optical care, style and quality. Customers can select from a wide range of frames and lenses for glasses, contact lenses and sunglasses, allowing everybody to reflect their individual personalities and lifestyles.
With prices starting from £39, the Exclusive Brands in-house collection of eyewear makes the choice at Vision Express both unique and affordable. For frames and sunglasses the styles range from iconic, retro designs to the latest in ultra-modern chic. High-quality brands to suit every style and every budget.
With over 4,000 employees, Vision Express makes a difference to the communities it operates within, and as part of its commitment to Vision. Taken Seriously, and as a responsible and caring retailer, it 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: