BRAVE twin Cameron Angus is lucky to be alive after a routine eye test revealed a life-threatening brain tumour.
The eight-year-old was taken by his father James, to see an optician after the youngster complained of blurred vision and dizziness.
It was then that optician Andrew Keyes became a life-saver when he spotted swelling behind the schoolboy’s eyes, and Cameron, of Gosforth, Newcastle, was rushed to hospital for tests.
Dad-of-two James, 43, an estate agent, said: “Cameron had the odd dizzy spell and a bit of blurred vision. We put it down to the possible side effects from tablets he had been prescribed to counteract abdominal migraine.
“As we couldn’t find evidence to show that these were recognised side effects, we thought it would be a good idea to get his eyes checked. That was when it all kicked-off.
“Optician Andrew managed the Saturday morning appointment with the ultimate professionalism, showing great care and concern and said we needed to get Cameron to hospital, and that he had arranged for us to be seen immediately.
“Over the course of the weekend Cameron had a series of tests, CT and MRI scans, before we were told on Monday evening they had discovered a brain tumour. Thankfully it was in an operable position and it was removed the following Wednesday. By Friday tests had come back to show the tumour was malignant.
“It was as quick as that. Andrew certainly fired the starting pistol in getting everything going.
“I will never be able to thank him enough for the part he has played in diagnosing my son’s condition.” Cameron is now well on the road to recovery. Andrew, 36, who owns Keyes Opticians on Ashburton Road, Gosforth, said: “Looking at the back of Cameron’s eyes showed marked swelling of the optic nerves, which is a classic sign of raised pressure in the brain and often caused by a brain tumour.
“The digital imaging system I have in the practice is particularly good at helping detect these sorts of changes. I was in no doubt this was a serious finding needing immediate action.
“I phoned Newcastle’s Royal Victoria Infirmary and arranged for Cameron to be seen straight away by the paediatric team. I am delighted he was treated so quickly.”
Following the surgery last year, Cameron has been on an intensive 15-month programme of radiotherapy and chemotherapy. It is due to end this September when his parents, James and Sally, and twin sister Olivia, hope he will get the all-clear.
James added: “It has been really tough but he has been so brave. He has been able, whenever possible, to get back to school with friends at West Jesmond Primary School as well as receiving home tutoring.
“The treatment he has received from Simon Bailey, consultant paediatric oncologist, and the rest of the team has been exceptional.
“We cannot thank them enough. However, I cannot help thinking how different things might have been if Andrew had not picked up the problem when he did.”
Seeing a path to healthy eyes clearly
SIGHT is the sense people fear losing the most, yet many of us do not know the best way to look after our eyes.
As part of efforts to change this, eye care charities, organisations and health professionals from across the UK have joined together for National Eye Health Week to promote the importance of eye health and the need for regular sight tests for all.
The awareness raising campaign – which runs until this Sunday – seeks to educate members of the public about the importance of regular eye checks and dispel the myth that they’re just for checking vision.
Dr Mike Guy, medical director for NHS North of Tyne said: "It is easy to neglect the eyes because they rarely hurt when there is a problem. But once eyesight is lost, it may never be restored. Sight tests should be part of everyone’s healthcare routine just like going to the dentist."
To find an optician in your local area visit the NHS Choices website and type in your postcode at www.nhs.uk