Late last year I became aware that I had developed blurred vision in my left eye.
I attended my opticians in January and was alarmed to discover that I could not read the top letter on the vision chart with my left eye even with the aid of the various corrective lenses provided by my optician. He referred me immediately to Queen Mary’s Hospital, Sidcup, who carried out various tests and arranged a further appointment for me in March. Towards the end of February, I became concerned that my condition was worsening and attended A&E at the Western Eye Hospital in London on 27 February.
Again, a number of tests were carried out and a provisional diagnosis of non-arthritic ischemic optic neuropathy was reached. I attended a follow-up appointment on 19 April when this diagnosis was confirmed. A further appointment to test visual fields was arranged for 21 June.
Early in June, vision in my right eye began to deteriorate rapidly. I therefore attended Moorfields A&E on 5 June. Moorfields conducted a further series of tests and offered me an appointment with a neuro-opthalmologist on 12 June, with the option of re-presenting at A&E if I noticed a further decline in my right eye vision (by this time my left eye vision was non-existent). My right eye vision was declining on a day-to-day basis by now and so I duly presented again at Moorfields A&E on 8 June.
Again, a variety of tests were carried out and the thinking was that (rather unluckily!) I had suffered another non-arthritic ischemic optic neuropathy, this time in my right eye. I was about to be discharged, but after speaking to the consultant, the duty doctor decided to send me for a brain scan. This revealed the presence of a large (egg-sized) tumour on my pituitary gland, which was impinging on my optic nerve and causing the reduction in sight. It was successfully removed by Mr Barazi and team at Kings College Hospital shortly afterwards and I am pleased to say that my vision in both eyes has returned to around the level it was this time last year -. before I became aware that there was a problem. The consultant ophthalmologist at Kings has described this recovery as ‘remarkable’.
No criticism of any individuals or institutions is intended here, but the key point is the timing of the brain scan. It would clearly have helped if this had been provided at an earlier stage, and there may be a lesson here for others (both patients and physicians) who find themselves faced with a similar situation.
At my most recent ophthalmology appointment at King’s, they told me that there is irreversible damage to the retina in my left eye. It is probable that this would not have occurred had the tumour been diagnosed earlier. The practical effect of this is that should I decide to have lens replacement surgery at a later date, any improvement in my left eye would only be marginal. But I would stress that given all the circumstances, I am extremely happy with the outcome.
Photo of Michael enjoying a driving day at the SevernValley Railway back in the summer.