THE IMPORTANCE of getting your eyes tested has been reiterated by the story of a five-year-old girl from Lerwick who was diagnosed with a brain tumour after a check-up.
Etta Hannah’s visit to Specsavers in Lerwick earlier this year before starting school ended with a recommendation for an emergency hospital appointment and scan.
It was confirmed from a CT scan at the Gilbert Bain Hospital that Etta had extreme swelling of the optic nerve which could have resulted in the loss of her sight.
An MRI scan in Aberdeen then found a large brain tumour at the back of her neck which had spread down her spine, with two sessions of emergency surgery taking place in Edinburgh to reduce the size of the main tumour by a half.
The plight of Etta and parents Jennifer Murray and Robert Hannah was previously highlighted by Shetland News after a fundraiser was set-up to support them as the child started 18 months of chemotherapy.
They have now gone into more detail around their experience during National Eye Health Week.
Robert said he followed his “gut instinct” by pressing for health workers to look at his daughter more closely after initially failing to get a diagnosis.
“I had noticed some changes in Etta’s behaviour and a lack of appetite, but I would never have thought it could be a brain tumour,” he said.
“We made several appointments with the doctor and health visitors but with no diagnosis, and being told I was overreacting, I had to go with my parental gut instinct and keep looking for ways to figure it out.
“If you feel there is something not right, an eye test could help rule out any concerns. Finally we have an answer and Etta can get the treatment she needs.”
Jennifer added: “‘If our hospital on the island had an MRI scanner it’s possible that Etta’s tumour could have been spotted and treated sooner, but thankfully Etta’s surgeries have been successful and she was allowed back home to start her first week of primary school.
“We have now moved to Aberdeen for three months as Etta starts 18 months of low level chemotherapy.”
Lerwick Specsavers store director Thomas Bruin said a number of underlying health conditions can be detected from an eye health check.
“During National Eye Health Week this week, and throughout the year, we’re encouraging everyone in Scotland to stop and think about their eye health and book that all important test,” he added.
“We recommend getting your eyes checked every two years and, as tests are free through the NHS in Scotland, there really is no reason to delay.
“Etta’s case, although very rare, is an example of just how vital an eye exam can be.”
Etta will have a shunt and require further testing for the rest of her life, with regular MRI scans on the Scottish mainland as she grows up.
However, she might be able to have the scans closer to home in the future if £2 million is raised in Shetland for an MRI machine in Lerwick.