Youngster battling eye cancer opens new Romford opticians
- Credit: Ellie Hoskins
A Romford five-year-old diagnosed with a rare eye cancer helped open a new Gallows Corner opticians.
Vision Express at Tesco in Gallows Corner officially opened its doors on May 30 with a celebration led by a five-year-old ambassador for the Childhood Eye Cancer Trust (CHECT).
Kitty was diagnosed with retinoblastoma (Rb), a rare and aggressive eye cancer when she was just nine weeks old.
Her mum, Cathy noticed the pupil in Kitty’s eye had a translucent appearance and asked her local GP to check Kitty’s vision at her routine six-week checkup.
Cathy said: “A referral was made immediately and within 10 days we were at the Royal London Hospital for a preliminary check.
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“We were asked to bring Kitty back two days later to be examined under general anaesthetic, where they found a tumour in her right eye.”
Due to the size of the tumour, the decision was made to have Kitty’s right eye removed.
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Despite her promising recovery, six weeks later the aggressive cancer was found in Kitty’s left eye as well.
She underwent cryptotherapy and was in remission for 14 months but relapsed again in 2015.
“Kitty is currently doing really well, but it is absolutely vital that we raise awareness,” Cathy added.
“We want to make sure other children don’t have to go through the same battle as Kitty because of a late or missed diagnosis.
“We were told that if we had left it even six months later, we would have lost her.”
The new store features a refreshed logo, striking purple and green colour decor with bright sofas and wooden flooring to deliver a more modern and vibrant environment that will put customers at ease.
Vision Express has enjoyed an award-winning partnership with CHECT since 2010, using initiatives to raise awareness of Rb.
It was also the first optician in the UK to roll out a protocol to ensure a quick and effective referral if Rb is suspected.
Ann Lince, the Vision Express Tesco Romford Gallows store manager said: “Many people don’t realise that eye tests at school are no longer mandatory and this is a perfect opportunity for Vision Express to let people know about the importance of regular eye exams for children.”
Vision Express CEO Jonathan Lawson added: “We’re delighted to welcome new team members to the company and provide a seamless eye health service to former Tesco optical customers.
“Crucially, we’re pleased to now be able to offer our vision expertise in a convenient location to residents.”