Banana boat ride almost causes blindness for Feock woman

Amanda Barlow with Paul McGrane of Specsavers Falmouth

Amanda Barlow with Paul McGrane of Specsavers Falmouth

First published in News

A woman who had a sight-saving operation after suffering a detached retina in Spain is urging people to be aware of the signs of such an eye injury.

Amanda Barlow, of Feock, believes she may have suffered the detachment, a problem which occurs when the lining at the back of the eye pulls away from the blood vessels and which can cause permanent blindness, after a holiday banana-boat ride.

She noticed a black spot in her vision which didn't go away, and as her holiday continued it grew worse, so immediately upon landing back in the UK she called her optician Paul McGrane at Specsavers Falmouth to describe her symptoms, and was asked in for an eye examination the next morning.

Paul said: “From talking to her we could tell it was serious, she had a blurred area in her vision, and we asked to see her the next day.”

Amanda said: “He made time to see, me, looked in my eye and told me calmly to get to Treliske, there's a retinal tear.”

She saw an ophthalmologist the same day. “He spent a long time looking at it, and then he pushed his equipment aside and said 'if you don't have an operation in the next 24 hours you will lose the sight.'”

She underwent surgery in Exeter using new equipment, which involved using a laser to repair the tear and then holding the retina in place with an air bubble while it was stitched back together.

She said: “It was bloody scary, but they were very clear about what they intended to do.”

Amanda had to lie down on her front for three days following the surgery, and sit up constantly, including while asleep, for a further two weeks to make sure the gas bubble didn't move, but it was worth it as her sight has gradually recovered.

She said: “We all take our sight for granted, but I went out for the first time after a week and seeing my shadow on the grass for the first time and the difference it made was marvellous.”

Amanda is now urging anyone with the symptoms of retinal damage, flashing lights or shadows on their vision, to get themselves checked.

Paul added: “It often occurs when people are very short sighted, or they get a knock, or sometimes for no reason.”

“It's not very common, but more so than you think. For every ten people who come in with the symptoms one will have something wrong, but it's always worth checking.

Caption: Amanda Barlow with Paul McGrane of Specsavers Falmouth

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