A routine eye test turned into an emergency operation to save the life of a retired head teacher from Cupar.
Alison Wright booked a test, thinking she needed glasses, but the optician spotted a dark area on the tissue of her right eye.
The 63-year-old was referred to Ninewells Hospital in Dundee where an ultrasound confirmed there was melanoma behind her eye.
Alison went for the eye test, her first for more than 10 years, at Specsavers in St Andrews, shortly after she retired as headteacher of Coaltown of Balgonie Primary School.
Alison said: “The last thing I wanted to hear when I retired last year was my health had been compromised in any way.
“I suspected that I needed glasses but could not have imagined the extent of the problem that was discovered. The sight in my right eye is poor at present but the situation could have been much worse. I’m so grateful to the professional and prompt service I was given.”
Only three hospitals in Europe provide the specialist proton beam radiotherapy Alison needed so she was transferred to the Clatterbridge Hospital in Liverpool.
Proton beam therapy is a type of radiotherapy which uses a beam of high energy protons, rather than high energy x-rays to treat specific types of cancer.
The radiation in Alison’s body will continue to work for up to 18 months and she will attend check-ups every six months for the foreseeable future, which will include a MRI scan to check if the cancer has spread, but her prognosis looks positive.
Now Alison is urging people to book an eye test, which are free once every two years in Scotland.
“Until last year, I hadn’t been for a sight test since 2007,” she said.
“I can’t recommend enough the importance of keeping up to date with visits to your local opticians – a sight test is free through the NHS in Scotland so there is no excuse for delay.”
Julia Campbell, store director at Specsavers St Andrews, praised the optician, Kirsty Bidgood, who spotted the dark tissue.
“Alison’s case, although very rare, is an example of just how vital an eye exam can be,” she said.
“We recommend getting your eyes checked every two years as they can detect several underlying health conditions, not just changes in prescription.
“I’m proud to have Kirsty as a member of store team and we’d like to wish Alison a long and happy retirement.”