As Lauren Percival started getting headaches at the age of 15 she was given glasses.
Headaches are often a sign of uncorrected shortsightedness and she chalked it all up to the fact that.
The painful and debilitating pain continued to linger over the years The debilitating pain lasted for years, but Lauren believed that it was because she needed more lenses – until an eye doctor confirmed that there was no changes in her vision.
I’ve always believed that the recurring headaches were due to the need to get new prescriptions for my lenses and that was the case,’ Lauren said.
“Over the years my headaches have gotten worse until the point that I’m unable to perform my job at present due to the pain being too extreme.’
At 29 years old, Lauren discovered a shocking fact that was revealed through an examination of the eyes. The optician examined Percival’s eyes by using an optical coherence (OCT) test. They discovered what is known as quadrantanopia. This is an impairment of vision within one of the quadrants that comprise the vision field. The condition can be a sign of multiple sclerosis (MS).
Lauren was sent by the Torbay Hospital, where it was discovered that she had MS which is a permanent and possibly disabling condition that can affect the brain and spinal cord.
“It was a total surprise. I had no idea that I would have been diagnosed with something as serious as MS”, Lauren was able to reflect.
All became transparent back on November 20, 2021 after Lauren fell unconscious. She was miserable according to her account, and was became overheated.
Then she continued: “I had a bad stomach and fainted. I fell asleep and the next morning the next day, my headaches were more severe.
“The next day, after that I woke up with double vision and blurred vision.
The light was causing pain to my eyes. I also had issues with balance along with memory issues.’
She made her way to her local Specsavers and was convinced that she needed an updated prescription. The doctor scheduled an appointment for her the next day, at which point they discovered the quadrantanopia.
They suggested it could be a stroke but due to her age , was more likely to be the first sign of MS.
Then, at Torbay Hospital, they tested her eyes as well as blood and coordination and took spinal fluid to test.
They couldn’t pinpoint the reason for my condition and she was unable to pinpoint what was wrong,’ she said. The doctors wanted me to stay for a night, but they agreed to let me go home after I agreed to return in the morning to have the MRI examination.’
The MRI scan, which examines the brain, revealed some “smudge-like” area within her head. The patient was treated for five days of high-dose steroids , but she did not receive a diagnosis.
They helped ease her symptoms. This appeared to reduce my symptoms up until the point that she experienced a relapse in January of this year.
A fresh MRI scan showed spots on Lauren’s spinal cord. Lauren received a diagnosis of multiple sclerosis.
Lauren is now injecting herself at home to receive treatment that is designed to treat disease, and could increase her vulnerability to coughs, chest infection and flu-like symptoms.
MS has a different impact on everyone. She told me: “I have good days and bad days , but I’m in a certain level of pain each day.
I struggle in my vision of the peripheral which limits my mobility because I’m able to get into something or somebody and not even know they’re there. I have trouble with double vision, too.
I don’t drive and I’m not allowed to do so now.’
Doctors believe that Lauren did not receive a diagnosis over a period of three years. If her optician had not looked into any of her signs, Lauren might lose more vision.
“I’m happy that I was diagnosed at the time I was because the progression of my MS could have progressed even without my knowledge the extent of it,’ Lauren said. If you notice anything odd in your eyes I strongly suggest to see a doctor.’
Simon Simmonds, Ophthalmic Director of Specsavers’ Torbay branch, said that optometrists have the ability to spot the first signs of an individual’s health.
He added: “It is essential to ensure that people are keeping up with regular eye health checks as not everybody is aware the significance of a sight test more than just a way of confirming the need for an updated prescription for their glasses, or not.’
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