Published: March 9, 2010
Eye check proves a life saver for Burnham-On-Sea pensioner

A new county-wide eyesight health check service has proved a potential life saver for a Burnham-On-Sea pensioner.

For the last six months NHS Somerset has been working with optometrists across the county developing a new and free eye assessment service called Acute Community Eyecare Service (ACES).

The service is for local NHS patients experiencing a recent eye problem such as reduced vision, red or painful eyes, flashes or floaters, double vision or watering of the eye.

Stanley Powell, 89, from Burnham, became aware of just such a problem with his sight last December.

On the advice of his doctor, he visited the ACES eye service at his local opticians and on examination, staff were so concerned at what they found they referred him to an eye specialist at Taunton's Musgrove Park Hospital.

It turned out to be a serious eye tumour and the consultant at Musgrove Park Hospital quickly realised that Mr Powell would need to be referred on to one of the country’s top eye specialists if he was to stand any chance of successful treatment.

By the first week of January this year, Mr Powell had been referred to the Royal Liverpool University Hospital and he faced the unenviable choice of either having his eye removed or risking the tumour growing still larger and becoming untreatable. Mr Powell opted to have his eye removed.

Now recovering at his Burnham home, Mr Powell is looking forward to soon having a glass eye fitted at Taunton’s Musgrove Park Hospital. However, as he reflected upon that fateful day in December this week, he expressed his gratitude to his local optometrists and the ACES eye service, his hospital specialists and the prompt action of the health professionals involved.

"When I first became aware of a problem it was as though I could see a small feather shape in part of my right eye. There was no pain, but I have always kept myself in good health and always sought advice from my GP just in case there was a problem," he told

"You can imagine my surprise when he said I should go straight away to my local optician and they would check my eye for any problem. They did and shortly after examining my eye they said they would refer me immediately to an eye specialist at Musgrove Park Hospital – that afternoon and even suggested that I might need to take an overnight bag in case they wanted me to stay in overnight or have immediate treatment."

"I was very pleased with the care and attention I have received from everyone. All the necessary arrangements were made to get me to hospital and ensure my surgery was performed quickly, said Mr Powell.

"My advice to anyone who finds that they have trouble with their eyes is to always get them checked out. Visiting the ACES service at your local optician couldn’t be easier. There is no point in putting off an eye check. The problem could be a lot more serious than you think as I discovered, so don’t delay,"added Mr Powell.

David Bull, the optometrist on Burnham High Street whose staff helped Mr Powell, told "As optometrists, we feel the ACES service is helping a great many people who might otherwise ignore common eye problems. We all lead busy lives but some eye problems not only impair your sight, which is dangerous, but can also indicate an underlying health problem. Your sight is precious and it’s therefore important to always check out any problems when they arise."

ACES is free to any patient registered with a Somerset GP and is provided by skilled accredited optometrists through opticians participating in the new scheme.

Patients can access the services by either contacting one of the approved opticians or your family doctor who may refer you. Appointments are available during normal working hours and patients will normally be seen within 24 hours.

During your free eye assessment the optometrist will assess your symptoms and ask about any history you may have of eye problems. If necessary, they will offer a follow-up appointment or refer you to a GP. If the condition is serious you will be referred onto a hospital eye service.


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