Routine eye test catches Wigan schoolgirl's rare condition

Abigail Price
Abigail Price

The mum of a Wigan schoolgirl who was diagnosed with a potentially life-threatening condition following a routine eye test, is urging others to have their children’s vision checked.

To mark World Sight Day 2019, Ashley Price from Standish has spoken about the terrifying ordeal of finding out her eight-year-old daughter had brain tumour symptoms during an optician’s appointment.

Abigail Price with mum Ashley, dad Paul and three-year-old brother Samuel

Abigail Price with mum Ashley, dad Paul and three-year-old brother Samuel

Abigail, who has since been diagnosed with a rare condition called idiopathic intracranial hypertension and is receiving appropriate treatment, was sent straight to Manchester Eye Hospital from a check up at Vision Express after exhibiting strange symptoms.

Her mum was initially alerted to her sight problems by a school teacher at Woodfold Primary School who said she “repeatedly” left her seat to see writing on the board during lessons.

Abigail was examined by Vision Express optometrist Aisha Shabbir at Tesco Wigan branch, who raised concerns after detecting large optical discs. Aisha made an emergency referral to Manchester Royal Eye Hospital for further testing.

Ashley, 36, said: “It was an awful time – we went to the hospital the same day as being seen by Vision Express and Abigail had to undergo a lot of tests.

“She had an MRI scan to map her brain and we were so worried.

“I remember crying but not wanting Abigail to see – I had to be strong for her.”

Abigail was diagnosed with idiopathic intracranial hypertension (IIH), a rare condition due to high pressure within the spaces that surround the brain and spinal cord.

Uncommonly found in children, the condition mirrors symptoms of a brain tumour and is sometimes known within the medical industry as a ‘false brain tumour’.

Since the diagnosis, Abigail has had more tests and doctors believe she has optic nerve drusen, causing the abnormal swelling.“

Abigail needed a lumbar puncture, known as a spinal tap, to reduce the pressure and we were told she might need another”, added Ashley.

“It was a horrible ordeal, but she was so brave.

“We have since been back to the Vision Express store and Abigail is always happy to see the ‘eye doctors’ there.

“She was told that she didn’t need glasses and she was actually disappointed – her best friend has glasses and she wanted to be ‘glasses friends’.

“The Vision Express team were amazing, and they’ve made a pair of non-prescribed frames with UV protection so she can match with her friend.

“Abigail is now recovering, and her eyesight has improved, which we are so grateful for.”

Following her diagnosis, Abigail requires regular check-ups but is recovering well and has returned to school with improved sight.

Her optometrist Aisha, said: “During Abigail’s eye exam it became clear that she needed urgent hospital care.

“She has been through so much and she tells us that all the doctors, her mummy and daddy and everyone she knows has said she is the bravest girl in the world, and we think so too.

“Ashley was concerned about Abigail’s poor vision and did the right thing by coming in to see us.

“Children under 16 receive free eye tests through the NHS, so parents should ensure their children are having regular eye tests and to get anything they’re concerned about checked out.”

Vision Express is encouraging people to have regular eye tests this World Sight Day, today.

The company has launched free eye tests nationwide, which continues to run through October.

The offer is valid when booked online at www.visionexpress.com, where a voucher can be downloaded.