Sue Perkins warns 'get your eyes tested' after her tragic bereavement

·4-min read
Sue Perkins is warning about the importance of eye health after an optician spotted her father's brain tumour, pictured in April 2018. (Getty Images)
Sue Perkins is warning about the importance of eye health after an optician spotted her father's brain tumour, pictured in April 2018. (Getty Images)

Sue Perkins is urging people to "take care of their eyes" after revealing her father was diagnosed with a brain tumour following a visit to the opticians.

Perkins, 51, from Penzance, recently appeared on BBC Radio Cornwall to talk with Julie Skentelbery about the dangers that come with not getting your eyes checked on a regular basis.

In early 2017, the TV star's father, Bert Perkins, was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumour which was originally identified by an optician at his local Specsavers.

He passed away six months later, leaving the former GBBO presenter determined to raise awareness of the importance of optic health.

Read more: How one woman's routine eye test led to an urgent hospital dash

"I've been banging the drum for people to get their eyes checked since my father sadly passed away," she said. 

"Opticians are there for more than just prescriptions, they can check your eye health for conditions like diabetes and glaucoma.

"For those worried about getting their eyes checked, the new technology feels like nothing more than a sigh over the eyeball.

"People seem to think it's okay to muddle along with blurred vision because they'd rather not be reminded that they're getting old.

"The earlier you can get a diagnosis, the more chance you have of a pain free existence."

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The importance of eye health

Recent statistics reveal Brits have been putting off vital health appointments due to the coronavirus pandemic, with findings from the Royal College of Ophthalmologists estimating that at least 10,000 people in England, Wales and Scotland have already missed out on essential care for their vision.

But a visit to the opticians can help spot more than just vision impairments. 

“Most people think of an eye test as something that is for checking whether you need corrective lenses or to update a prescription, but eye checks are vital for spotting any early signs of common health problems," explains Dr Andy Hepworth from Essilor.co.uk.

Read more: Teacher, 29, back in the classroom after being treated for rare brain tumour

While an eye examination can indeed identify any need for corrective lenses, regular eye exams are, in fact, like a window into your body for trained opticians who may pick up other more general health areas as well as early signs of eye conditions.

Some of the conditions opticians can pick up on include:

  • Diabetes. Diabetes can affect small blood vessels in the eye, which can damage the retina. Your optician can pick up on early changes such as leaks from damaged blood vessels, before you have noticed any symptoms.

  • High blood pressure. An optician can notice high blood pressure during a routine eye test, by looking for narrowed or leaking blood vessels or a swollen retina.

  • High cholesterol. This can cause blockages in the body’s blood vessels, including those in your eyes. Opticians can notice cholesterol running through the blood vessels.

  • Tumours. In some cases, an eye test may be able to detect signs of brain tumours. Opticians may notice swelling of the optic nerves, which can indicate a brain tumour may be present.

Opticians can potentially spot other health conditions. (Getty Images)
Opticians can potentially spot other health conditions. (Getty Images)

Read more: This '20-20-20' rule could help protect your eyesight

Five eye problems you should never ignore

Dr Hepworth says it is always best to get any changes to your eyes or eyesight checked out – no matter how small or insignificant. But there are certain eye symptoms you should never ignore including:

  1. blurred vision/ double vision

  2. eye pain

  3. burning

  4. droopy eye lids

  5. floaters with flashing lights

"These could all be signs that something isn’t quite right," he says. "Your optician has the technology to take an in-depth look at your eye and provide expert advice."

It is recommended you visit an optician every two years, unless you have a more complicated eye health history, in which case your optician will recommend how regularly you should be seen.

Additional reporting SWNS.

Watch: Five reasons your vision is changing as a parent and what to do about it. 

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