For Northwich lorry driver Nathan Blundell what began as a routine eye test at his local optician ended in life-saving surgery to remove a brain tumour.
In September 2014, the 36-year-old was urged by his partner to visit the Vision Express Northwich store to have his eyes tested after experiencing severe headaches.
Nathan said: “Doctors diagnosed me with depression initially but my partner is a nurse and she wasn’t happy that I was still experiencing so much pain.
“During my eye test, Beverley Nelson, the optometrist found an indication of intracranial hypertension from behind my eyes andtold me to go home and the hospital would be in touch. Sure enough, Leighton hospital phoned me as soon as I got back and told me to go straight there.”
A CT scan enabled doctors to quickly diagnose a brain tumour requiring an operation. Nathan said: “I was taken to Royal Stoke University Hospital by ambulance where surgeons operated for nine hours to remove 90% of the tumour.
“Doctors had to leave some of the tumour around the main artery as there was a risk of blinding or paralysis if they attempted to remove it. Two years on though, that sliver isn’t doing anything, which is great news.”
Nathan spent 11 days in hospital, undergoing radiotherapy and chemotherapy following his operation. He added: “The chemo really knocked me but a day after the operation, I was walking up and down the ward. The doctors were amazed at how quickly I recovered.”
Nathan, who has regular six-monthly scans, is now working to get his life back on track and recently reapplied for his driving licence, which he surrendered following his diagnosis, as recommended by the DVLA.
He said: “I take each day as it comes. There were many times I wanted to kick and scream but it’s all about positive thinking.”
Nathan has been a customer at the Vision Express Northwich store since he had his eyes tested as part of his medical for his HGV test eight years ago. He was recently invited back to the store as guest of honour to perform a ribbon cutting to launch the store’s newly refurbished premises.
He said: “I have a lot of gratitude after my experience – to the store for referring me to hospital but also to my partner because if she hadn’t sent me for an eye test at Vision Express I could still be going on as I was, with an untreated brain tumour.
“Anything could have happened; I could have had a fit at the wheel while driving a lorry and hit someone, but the store team took me straight in for an eye test and they were amazing.
“I went to see them when I came out of hospital and it honestly felt like I was somebody famous. They were so happy to see me and said they’re always thinking of me.”
Nathan was welcomed into the new look Northwich optician, which has just celebrated its 20th anniversary, by store directors Dawn Peters and Beverley Nelson, and the rest of the store team.
Beverley said: “Many people don’t realise that such serious conditions can be picked up during an eye test. Welcoming Nathan into store to help us celebrate our relaunch was great, and shows how important it is to have regular eye tests and visit an optician if you experience any worrying symptoms.”
Dawn added: “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.”
Since Nathan’s diagnosis, he has been fundraising tirelessly for The Brain Tumour Charity, and has raised over £3,000. His next charity feat is the Twilight walk in September, which he hopes to enlist the support of 500 volunteers. To support him, head to his JustGiving page on: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/Team-Nathan-and-Craig-Tandem-Skydives
Vision Express is urging the public to prioritise their eye health in 2017 and is offering a free eye test for everyone in the UK and Ireland, 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 downloadable from the Vision Express website (https://www.visionexpress.com/book-eye-test/) until 31 January. The voucher can be redeemed until the end of February 2017 at any of approximately 390 Vision Express stores across the UK.
Vision Express is a partner of the Road Haulage Association (RHA) and has been working with the trade association to encourage professional and HGV drivers, like Nathan, to have regular sight tests to protect both their health and their licence.
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 Northwich store call 01606 41155, visit 70 High Street, Northwich CW9 5AUor make an online enquiry at: www.visionexpress.com/book-eye-test/
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: