Optician credited with saving bus driver's life and career
An Orpington based bus driver (pictured above, right) is championing the importance of regular eye tests after having both his career and life ‘saved’ by a visit to his local Specsavers.
Robert Snelling visited Specsavers in Orpington High Street for a routine check-up in July 2014 and was immediately referred back to his GP after optometrist Shahen Raj discovered an abnormality above his left eye.
Despite having been given the all-clear in hospital the previous day during his regular diabetes check-up, the 63 year-old was diagnosed with a malignant melanoma, leaving him requiring emergency operations to remove the tumour.
‘It certainly came as a bit of a shock,’ says Robert. ‘One day I was being told that there were no signs of anything untoward on my retinal scan and the next I was facing a battle against cancer.
‘It was incredibly scary to begin with – no-one wants to know they’ve got something in their eye that they shouldn’t have and it’s certainly a diagnosis you can never really prepare yourself for.’
Robert began treatment for the melanoma straight away and undertook plaque brachytherapy – which sees a radioactive implant placed under the eye to deliver a highly concentrated dose of radiation to the tumour.
‘It wasn’t the most comfortable of treatments but I was still able to see fine and I was just grateful that it’d been discovered in time. I had my second operation a week later to remove the plaque and, thankfully, it had been a complete success.
‘The only slight complication I’ve had is that the radiation causes excess leakage from the eye but I manage this with regular Avastin eye injections every six weeks and I really can’t complain.’
A new report published by Specsavers revealed that 25 per cent of people fail to have an eye test every two years.
Shahen Raj, store director at Specsavers Orpington, said: ‘We’re obviously thrilled that Robert has made a full recovery and we feel cases like this just go to show just how important regular eye tests can be in maintaining people’s health.
‘At no point did Robert think there was anything wrong with him when he came to us but, again, this highlights that there are several eye conditions that are symptomless and can cause real damage if they go untreated. We’d urge everyone to ensure they prioritise an eye test as soon as possible.’
Such sentiment is also echoed by Robert himself, who says he owes his profession, and indeed his life to Specsavers. ‘I really do think Specsavers are fantastic, particularly the team in Orpington. My job relies heavily on having good eyesight and without the diagnosis I probably would’ve lost my eye, so it really does feel like I’ve been given a second chance and for that I’ll always be grateful.’