A Church Gresley youngster who lost sight in her left eye due to a rare eye cancer recently joined the Vision Express Ashbourne store team for its official relaunch.
As an ambassador for the Childhood Eye Cancer Trust (CHECT), a nominated charity of the national optical retailer, Katie Boyce, aged nine, joined the store team to perform a ribbon cutting and unveil the optician’s new state-of-the-art facilities.
Katie was diagnosed with retinoblastoma when she was just two years old. Her parents initially presumed that she had a squint, however further checks revealed she needed to be referred to hospital.
"In almost every picture when she was two she had this bright glint in her left eye,” Katie’s mother, Jamie explained. "We couldn't see it unless there was a flash so it wasn't until after she was diagnosed that we noticed it. Then her left eye started to wander and I thought the two things might be linked.”
Katie was referred to the Queen’s Hospital in Burton, and then to the Birmingham Children’s Hospital, where it was confirmed she had the rare eye cancer, retinoblastoma in both eyes. "As soon as you hear cancer your heart sinks,” Jamie added. “The thought of losing our little girl at two was awful.
“It all happened so fast; one moment we were in the opticians and the next we were in hospital. We didn't get the chance to digest what was going on or have any time to think.”
Following her diagnosis, Katie underwent chemotherapy and laser therapy treatment. Although the tumour was destroyed, she now only has sight in her right eye.
Now aged nine, Katie has been given the all clear. She still attends check-ups at Birmingham Children’s Hospital every six months but she is doing well.
As an ambassador for the Childhood Eye Cancer Trust (CHECT), Katie and her mum were invited as special guests at the relaunch of the Vision Express Ashbourne store following its extensive refurbishment.
They were welcomed by store director and optometrist Estelle Wildman and the rest of the optical team, who together have over 70 years’ combined optical experience with the national optician.
Estelle said: “It was a pleasure to have Katie and her mum join us as special guests – to help us celebrate our relaunch and raise awareness of retinoblastoma and the symptoms – which so many parents are unaware of.
“We’re so proud to unveil our new-look store to the local community, which will allow us to continue providing the thorough and personal service Vision Express prides itself on.”
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 and so it is lovely for Katie and her mum to be able to share their story and open the Vision Express Ashbourne store. Our greatest thanks go to the them for their work in raising awareness of childhood eye cancer.”
Vision Express has enjoyed an award-winning partnership with CHECT since 2010, using initiatives to raise awareness and drive donations for 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 Ashbourne store, call 01335 300199, visit 42 St John St, Ashbourne, DE6 1GP 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