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Newark woman with a rare eye condition save with help of trainee optometrist at Newark Specsavers

A trainee optometrist helped save the sight of a patient after she was identified with an extremely rare eye condition.

Sharon Spencer, 61, had been suffering from constant headaches for weeks but it wasn’t until her right cheek and eye started to swell that she sought help and went to Specsavers in Newark.

Aleena Ali, 22, a trainee optometrist from Newark, carried out several tests suspecting something was wrong with Sharon’s eye.

Aleena Ali, Sharon Spencer, Janaki Kotecha and store director Siddhant Majithia
Aleena Ali, Sharon Spencer, Janaki Kotecha and store director Siddhant Majithia

She called her senior colleagues to check her findings, before referring Sharon urgently to the hospital.

At the hospital, Sharon was diagnosed with a rare condition — cavernous carotid fistula — that was pressing against her sinus and causing the symptoms.

She was treated by surgeons at Queens Medical Centre in Nottingham.

“I had been given medication for the headaches after tests failed to show anything wrong,” said Sharon.

She added: “They got so bad that I was off work and couldn’t do anything.

“Then one morning I woke up and my cheek swelled around my eye and then my eyeball did the same thing, so I decided to go to my opticians to get it checked out because I was really concerned.

“Aleena was amazing. Her action in urgently referring me to the hospital probably saved my sight.”

Before being sent to Queens Medical Centre in Nottingham to be operated, Sharon was seen at Kings Mill Hospital the day before.

Sharon added: “They fitted a coil to my vein and artery to correct the problem and overnight the swelling reduced and the headaches disappeared.

“I was told that I could have lost my sight in that eye if it hadn’t been treated then.

“I’ve got a lot of people to thank for saving my sight but Specsavers in the first instance were my saviours and put me on the right track to get me the treatment I needed.”

Working at Specsavers in Newark is Aleena’s first job as an optometrist after graduating from Aston University last summer.

The trainee optometrist said: “The condition Sharon had is extremely rare and presented symptoms including extreme swelling and bulging, ptosis, weeping and irritation.

“It was very important that Sharon had urgent treatment for this as the tumour is sight-threatening and could ultimately have blinded her in that eye.

“As a graduate optometrist, this was a whirlwind for me, but I’m just glad I had the knowledge and support to be able to help in whatever way I could and that she is now on the road to recovery.”

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