Eye test saved life of Sheffield woman

Star reporter Ellen Beardmore and optician Sam Jahmed.
Star reporter Ellen Beardmore and optician Sam Jahmed.
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A WOMAN whose potentially deadly brain tumour was picked up by a routine eye test was on the operating table just 10 days later - for 12-hour surgery to save her life.

Ellen Beardmore, one of The Star’s reporters, found out she had a brain tumour after going for a simple eye test at Boots.

Star reporter Ellen Beardmore and optician Sam Jahmed.

Star reporter Ellen Beardmore and optician Sam Jahmed.

The 25-year-old had suffered almost no symptoms previously and had no cause for concern.

Ellen, who lives at Hunters Bar, said: “I went for an eye test thinking I might need new contact lenses and I ended up having a brain tumour.

“It was the biggest shock of my life.

“When a doctor said the words ‘brain tumour’ for the first time, all I could think was I was going to die.

“But it is incredible that it was found at all when I had no obvious symptoms, and before the build-up of fluid in my brain became worse, as it can cause brain damage or even death.”

Optometrist Samantha Ahmed spotted the warning signs while examining Ellen’s eyes at Boots on High Street in Sheffield.

Hospital scans then revealed a large benign tumour - found in only 20 of every million people each year.

Within days Ellen was undergoing a painstaking 12-hour operation to remove it, in the hands of surgeon Thomas Carroll who operated on Sheffield Central MP Paul Blomfield when he suffered a different type of brain tumour last year.

The eye test at Boots had showed Ellen had swollen optic nerves, and that her sight prescription had changed dramatically.

Samantha urgently referred Ellen to the Royal Hallamshire Hospital in Sheffield for further tests.

Mum Samantha, aged 30, of Chesterfield, said: “This was the first time I’d ever seen swollen optic nerves - it is very rare.

“There are only a few things it can be a result of, sometimes MS, so I knew it was serious but not how serious.

“I was shocked to find out later that it was a brain tumour. I was a bit tearful - and relieved that I’d seen it above all else - although I was upset for Ellen.

“This shows it’s really important to get your eyes checked at least every two years.

“It can pick up problems with your eyesight but also with your general health, because it’s the only way to see inside the body without surgery.”

The tumour was an acoustic neuroma, found on the hearing nerve and seen most commonly in middle aged people rather than young women.

Not all acoustic neuromas are life-threatening but Ellen’s was because of its size and the fluid build-up on her brain.

Ellen now faces further treatment on the last remnant of the growth with specialised stereotactic radiosurgery - for which the Hallamshire is the national centre.

She said: “I feel incredibly lucky to have been diagnosed in the first place. I could still be walking round with the tumour now.

“To live just minutes away from the expertise at the Hallamshire makes me even more fortunate.

“I can’t thank Samantha, and everyone at the hospital, enough for saving my life.”

Click the link to read more on Ellen’s remarkable story Routine eye-test saved my life