2:54pm Saturday 2nd June 2012
A NURSERY worker from Burnley who went for an eye test found herself undergoing life-saving surgery just hours later.
Single mum Katie Burns, 27, became concerned when she started to get headaches that were gradually becoming more frequent and severe.
A visit to the doctors only diagnosed a viral infection, but when a friend advised Katie, of Barden Lane, to go for an eye test, things changed quickly.
Katie, mum to six-year-old Harvey, said: “Everything happened so fast. One minute I was having an eye test and the next I was being told that I had a condition so rare that few doctors had ever seen anything like it.
“I now have to see doctors regularly to monitor my condition and have tests, and I may have to have further procedures - but I still feel very lucky.
“I used to think that eye tests were just there to test your vision, but they are an important health check that can pick up on problems that GPs may miss.”
During the eye examination at Specsavers in Burnley, optometrist Faheem Hassan, 27, noticed that Katie’s optic nerve was very swollen. He explained the seriousness of the problem and immediately referred Katie to Burnley General Hospital.
Katie went straight from the store to the hospital where staff could immediately see the seriousness of Katie’s condition and sent her in an ambulance to the Blackburn Accident and Emergency unit.
Just a few hours later, doctors performed an emergency lumber puncture procedure to relieve the pressure on Katie’s brain.
Specialists later discovered that Katie had two rare conditions, a narrowing of the veins in her brain, coupled with intracranial hypertension - or high blood pressure on the brain. Left untreated, the pressure would have blinded Katie and the veins in her brain may have erupted, with potentially fatal results.
To ease the pressure inside Katie’s brain, doctors fitted her with a stent, a small mesh tube that is used to treat narrow or weak arteries. The new procedure has only come into use in the last four years.
She said: “I had started to get splitting headaches all the time and they gradually got worse and worse.
“I went to the doctor and he said it was probably just a viral infection which would clear up after a while. But two months on, the headaches were just as bad, if not worse. That was when I went to the optician’s.”
Faheem said: “Normally the optic nerve head appearance is flat, but at the back of Katie’s eyes it was very raised and swollen, looking as though it was being pushed outwards.”
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