A VISIT to Specsavers Carlow proved a lifesaving experience for local man Danny Darcy when the optometrist discovered swelling on the brain after he had unknowingly contracted meningitis.
Danny, a well-known local athlete, is now keen to raise awareness of having regular eye tests after his experience with Specsavers in 2017.
Danny previously qualified for and competed in the World Junior Championships, European Cross-Country Championships and was on the road to competing in the Olympics. However, his running career suddenly came to a halt by tendonitis.
In 2017, Danny initially developed flu-like symptoms, a haze over his eyes and very painful burning sensations shooting through his arms and legs.
Following a couple of days of symptoms, Danny decided to visit his local doctor, where he was prescribed with a course of antibiotics for a ‘viral’ infection. The antibiotics eased the burning sensations that Danny was experiencing, so he ceased the antibiotic treatment. However, the haze over his eyes only worsened, to the point where his mother insisted he go to A&E. Here, Danny underwent a series of tests and x-rays but, as they could not detect anything wrong with his eyes, he was referred to his local optician in Specsavers in Carlow.
Claire Judge, an optometrist at Specsavers Carlow, examined Danny’s eye and discovered that she could not see his optic nerves.
“I was examining the back of Danny’s eye using the slit lamp and volk lens when it became immediately obvious that both of Danny’s optic discs were swollen and I could barely see his optic nerves,” said Claire.
“I then showed Danny the previous scan taken of his eye from a couple of years earlier to compare, where the nerves were clearly visible. This condition, known as papilloedema, is usually a sign of raised intracranial pressure, or a swelling on the brain, which is extremely serious.”
Claire immediately referred Danny to the eye department in Waterford University Regional Hospital, where the medical team analysed his condition and carried out a lumbar puncture procedure. It was then that Danny was diagnosed with meningitis.
Danny was in isolation for three weeks in Waterford Regional Hospital, where he was under constant monitoring.
“Everything happened within a two-week period after I initially felt unwell, so it was quite overwhelming,” said Danny.
“I can’t commend Claire enough for her quick and professional response, especially as I had initially been diagnosed with a viral infection. Specsavers Carlow took my symptoms seriously and I cannot thank them enough,” he added.
Danny is eager to raise awareness of the importance of regular eye tests and is hopeful his story will motivate anyone procrastinating about an eye exam. Specsavers recommends that everyone should have an eye test every two years.
“As well as detecting sight problems and eye diseases such as glaucoma or macular degeneration, the health of your eyes can tell a lot about your overall health,” said Claire.
“Eye tests can reveal whether you are suffering from a number of serious health conditions that are essentially silent and potentially fatal if not discovered early enough.”