Hospital medics were baffled by 12-year-old's bouts of sickness and dizziness - until her visit to the opticians.
A Warwickshire schoolgirl who thought she was suffering a food allergy discovered she had a brain tumour after taking an eye test.
When Lucy Edwards, 12, started having bouts of sickness her parents thought she had a tummy bug.
Lucy, from Kenilworth, started to feel ill in June, suffering a stiff neck, vomiting, being sleepy, and also being unsteady on her feet.
After inconclusive blood tests at Warwickshire Hospital, her parents Garren and Philippa remained baffled.
“We decided to try to cut gluten out of Lucy’s diet,” said Garren. “It appeared to work for a few days but Lucy was soon being sick again.
Lucy was then examined by a paediatrician at the Nuffield Hospital in Leamington Spa, who looked at her eyes and noted that there was some blurring, which he thought needed checking further.
He advised the family to visit Specsavers opticians in Kenilworth, where staff are able to take a photograph of the back of the eye using a special camera capable of digital retinal photography.
Store director and optometrist Ambreena Ahsan Bhatti carried out the eye examination, and quickly picked up that all was not right – the photo of Lucy’s retina revealed a large shadow.
She immediately sent Lucy to Walsgrave Hospital in Coventry, calling the A&E department to advise them that the family was on the way.
“It was a rollercoaster experience,” said Garren. “Lucy had a CT scan at Walsgrave which confirmed our worst fears.
“She was suffering from a brain tumour. Because she hadn’t suffered any headaches we hadn’t considered that she could have a brain tumour.
“She was transferred straight away, by ambulance, to Birmingham Children’s Hospital where she underwent an operation a couple of days later to remove most of the tumour.
“Although surgeons were unable to remove the entire tumour, due its location, the good news was that it was benign.”
Garren added: “It doesn’t really bear thinking about what might have happened if the tumour hadn’t been picked up.
“It was such a relief.”
Lucy has now made a good recovery and is back at school, and regaining her confidence.
“She particularly wanted to attend a school activity trip to The Manor in Shropshire for four nights at the end of October,” said Garren.
“Philippa and I were a bit apprehensive about her going but she was determined to go. Although she had to sit out quite a few activities it was a wonderful experience for her which she really enjoyed.”
Lucy will be returning to the Birmingham Children’s Hospital in a few weeks’ time for an MRI scan to see if the remaining tumour is ‘behaving’, or if further treatment is required.
In the meantime, she is enjoying returning to normal life, attending her local drama group, swimming and playing the piano.
Optometrist Ambreena said: “Lucy’s story really does demonstrate just how important regular eye examinations are, and how they can pick up a range of health conditions, including tumours.
• Lucy and her family are fundraising for Birmingham Children’s Hospital Charities, and have raised more than £1,500 for the cause. To donate visit www.justgiving.com/lucy2000-edwards