Specsavers Castlebar detect medical emergency through lifeline optical service during Covid-19

The team at Specsavers Castlebar are among those going above and beyond, to ensure people are receiving the emergency eyecare they need during the pandemic.

In recent weeks the store has come to the rescue of many people in the community. This includes frontline hospital workers and other customers in need of emergency care.

Store director and optometrist, Niamh O’Connell, explained: "At Specsavers, we are acutely aware of the vital role that good vision and healthy eyes play in people’s daily routines. Now more than ever, we are determined to continue providing care and an unwavering service to those in need. Through our emergency service we have been in a position to help a number of people in our community."

Niamh received a call in-store from a 52-year-old lady who was quite concerned about a drastic change in her peripheral vision in one eye. On speaking to the patient over the phone and assessing her symptoms, Niamh considered the issue an emergency and requested she come in to be tested. Using a visual field test, the expert optical team found her to have quadrantanopia, a condition that affects a quarter of the field of vision for the patient.

"Luckily we were in a position to triage the patients symptoms and request she come in to see us. Acting quickly ensured we could refer her urgently to the Eye Clinic at University Hospital Galway for an appointment within 90 minutes, with concerns of an emboli and possibility of stroke. The following morning the patient called me to advise that she had unfortunately suffered a minor stroke but due to early intervention she was able to be seen within three hours of the incident," said Niamh.

Niamh has tended to a number of emergency cases, including a lady who was suffering with a painfully inflamed eye. Following an initial conversation through Specsavers phone triage service, Niamh arranged an emergency appointment in store and a subsequent hospital referral. On examination in hospital, the patient was diagnosed with Iritis, a swelling and irritation in the area surrounding the iris, which if left untreated, can lead to severe vision loss or even blindness.

She also tended to a male patient who suffers with impaired sight in one of his eyes. The patient had been experiencing great discomfort after a foreign body became trapped within the eye with full function, meaning his vision and comfort was severely impacted. The patient was classified as an emergency case due to the risk of potential irreversible harm caused if the patient was to attempt removal of the foreign body at home. Again, Niamh was able to arrange an emergency appointment for the patient, where she successfully removed the foreign body.

While the store has currently suspended routine testing, it is still providing emergency care and home deliveries across the community. Emergency care may include, but is not limited to, urgent clinical advice or intervention for conditions such as red and painful eyes, sudden changes in vision or symptoms such as flashes and floaters which might suggest a retinal detachment, as well as support for frontline workers or an individual who is unable to work without their glasses and where a prescription that is fit for purpose isn’t in existence.

Specsavers has also launched a new service, RemoteCare, a free nationwide sight and hearing consultation service, offering access to vital advice and care from optometrists and audiologists, via video and telephone link. The service is designed to cover concerns ranging from eye health and changes in the quality of sight, to contact lens aftercare and audiology health and aftercare.

Delivered through a secure platform, the new service is open to everyone, whether or not they are currently a Specsavers customer, and can be accessed from any digital device. If a customer is unable to use video, they will be able to get expert advice over the phone.

Customers can contact their local Specsavers store by phone Monday to Friday between 10am and 2pm. If anyone has any concerns about their eyesight or hearing, they can call their local store and one of Specsavers professional experts will provide all the advice and support needed. A wealth of information and expert advice can also be found at www.specsavers.ie


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