'My life was saved by a visit to the optician'
A woman who went to her optician for a routine eye test ended up being rushed off for life-saving surgery – to remove a brain tumour the size of an orange.
Amber Carter, 23, booked the £32 appointment on the advice of her GP after suffering months of crippling headaches and sickness and a weakness in her right arm. She feared she might have to wear glasses – but within 24 hours had an operation to save her life.
Optometrist Anna Lewin found that her optic nerves were swollen and gave her an urgent referral to hospital.
Amber, assistant manager at the Perfume Shop in Bath, was given CAT and MRI scans which revealed the tumour on the right side of her brain. An ambulance then took her from the Royal United Hospital to a specialist centre at Bristol's Frenchay Hospital. There she underwent a nine-hour operation, which included shaving away part of her brain, because the tumour had grown so big. The growth was found to be benign and three months later Amber is now recovering at home in Chippenham.
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She said: "At the time my biggest concern was that I might have to wear glasses but in the end it saved my life. The optometrist noticed that both my optic nerves were swollen and rang the hospital in Bath for an appointment within two hours and everything happened so fast from then."
Amber woke from the operation last October with no feeling on her right side and for several weeks needed a wheelchair to get around. She can now walk unaided for short distances and hopes to return to work in a couple of months' time, and is having physiotherapy three times a week.
Amber said: "They don't know if I'll get all the sensation back, but I'd rather have this weakness and know they got it all out. I'm so grateful to the optician. If I hadn't made that appointment I probably wouldn't be here today."
Optometrist Ms Lewin, 33, of Haine & Smith in Chippenham, said: "I could see that her optic nerves were swollen in both eyes and that can indicate the presence of a tumour."