Taunton pensioner's shock after eye test reveals he'd had a stroke
A Taunton pensioner has spoken of his shock after what he thought was a problem with his television, turned out to be a stroke.
Norman Earl, 86, thought something was wrong with his television screen, but later realised it was something more so booked an appointment with his local optometrist.
Unbeknown to Norman, he had been having a stroke.
Mr Earl said: "I was watching television one evening and the show became blurred and flashing lights and bright colours started coming from the screen.
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"At the time I thought nothing of it - I thought it was the television screen playing up.
"The next day I realised my vision was still a bit blurred and thought I really should do something about this, so I booked an appointment with the optometrist who saw me straight away."
After an examination the optometrist felt certain Norman had suffered a stroke so he was referred immediately to the stroke department at Musgrove District Hospital.
Norman recalled his shock and serious concern at this point: "I am not the sort of person who gets scared about anything but I was certainly concerned when I was admitted to hospital.
"At this point no-one had actually confirmed that I had had a stroke as they were doing the relevant tests, so I didn't know what to think.
"When they revealed that this was what had happened to me I was very shocked as I am active and healthy for my age," he added, "My real concern was that it would happen again and the consequences would be worse."
Sarah Farrant was the optometrist at Earlam and Christopher practice in Taunton, who spotted the signs of Norman's stroke.
She said: "We often see people with what appears to be very vague or general problems with their sight, but on close examination of Norman's eyes I immediately suspected he could have been experiencing a minor stroke.
"Without delay I referred him to the appropriate consultant at Taunton's Musgrove Park Hospital.
"I was so pleased that Norman had acted quickly and decided to have his sight checked. When we examine eyes we can tell a lot about your general health.
Miss Farrant added: "It just goes to show how important it is to have regular eye exams and get your eyes checked properly if you feel something is not right."
Following the shock of his diagnosis and his continued health problems since, Norman is encouraging others to be sure they act as quickly as possible in similar situations:
"Since having the stroke I haven't been able to drive, but worst of all I can no longer read.
"I should have called 999 at the first signs but I didn't. Thankfully Sarah was quick off the mark and got the ball rolling straight away.
"I dread to think what could have happened if I hadn't made that eye appointment."
He added: "Your sight is very precious and having already had glaucoma I know how quickly a problem with your sight might occur. My advice to anyone would be if you have a problem with your sight get it checked out."
Norman's health problems were swiftly dealt with by the NHS ACES service (Acute Community Eye Care Service), a scheme that fast-tracked him for assessment.
Anyone who is registered with a Somerset GP can use this scheme which is free and aimed at those suddenly experiencing reduced vision, red or painful eyes, double vision or watering of the eye.
Details of ACES participating practices can be found here.