A 76 year old patient attended the practice complaining of decreased vision in the LE over the past few weeks. She had been previously made aware by ourselves that she had the slight beginnings of cataracts, and so wished to determine if this was the cause.
We compared notes from previous records in order to ascertain how much the vision had reduced, and the loss appeared to be considerable. Looking into previous records also allowed us to identify a freckle on the back of the eye that had been noted in the past few years. The freckle had not appeared to be suspicious, and these can be a common sight just as they would on the skin. This had not changed in the many years that the patient had attended the practice.
Using magnification lenses an abnormality was seen at the back of the left eye, the retina. In order to fully determine the extent of the eye condition, drops were instilled which give us a wider view of the back of the eye. With our newly acquired specialised retinal camera we were able to clearly identify a large growth on the back of the eye which was pushing through the layers of the eye and had caused a great deal of bleeding. It emerged that the freckle had formed a potentially cancerous growth which was breaking through layers of the eye as it progressed. This is known as a melanoma and is a serious eye condition. In some cases it can be life threatening as it can spread to other organs.
Our optometrist calmly discussed the implications with the patient, who although shocked was grateful at the quick discovery. We then contacted the specialised team at the hospital eye clinic and arranged for an emergency appointment the next day. The HES advised the patient that it was indeed a severe eye condition and anticipated removal of the eye. The faster this condition is picked up, the more successful the treatment is. She was very anxious particularly as she lives alone and has no support network. The optometrist made sure to keep in regular contact to help put her at ease for which she was very grateful. We wish the patient the very best in her recovery ...