Woman has life-saving diagnosis after routine eye test

Staffordshire | News | Published:

A mother has praised her opticians after she was diagnosed with a rare and life-threatening disease at an eye test.

Tina Hartford, 33, visited her optometrist after waking up one morning with problems in her left eye.

She was then told she was showing signs of Horner's Syndrome, a condition caused by an interruption in a set of nerves that go from the brain to the face and eyes.

Ms Hartford, who was pregnant at the time, was referred to hospital as a result of the optometrist at her local Vision Express store in Stafford.

She said: "The pupil in my left eye was constricted and my eyelid was drooping considerably when I woke up.

"I also had a headache so I decided to visit my optician to see if they could fit me in and luckily they did pretty much straight away.

"Even though I knew there was something wrong with my eye I wasn't overly concerned.

"I just thought I'd slept awkwardly during the night.

"There weren't any alarm bells ringing."


Ms Hartford underwent an MRI at the Royal Stoke University Hospital where it was discovered that the carotid artery in her neck, which is the main artery into the brain, had torn and a blood clot had developed.

Ms Hartford said: "I stayed in hospital for approximately a week while they carried out tests and started treatment.

"It is really rare for this artery to tear – only 1 in 100,000 cases – and it would likely have gone unnoticed if it weren't for Vision Express.

"I had to undergo over a year's worth of treatment with daily injections to thin my blood.


"If doctors had operated on the artery straight away, it could have caused a catastrophic stroke.

"Luckily the injections worked, breaking down the clot and repairing the artery so I didn't need an operation.

"Although the artery remains partially collapsed, the other part has rerouted itself into the brain again."

Tina thanked staff at Vision Express for recognising the danger signs during her eye test – even more so as she was three months pregnant.

She said: "Obviously it was a real worry for me because they told me I was going to have to deliver my baby early because of the treatment I needed.

"If I'd have had a normal labour, there was a serious risk of brain injury.

"My little girl, who's now two and a half years old, had to be delivered at 38 weeks but she is perfectly healthy."

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