Livingston man tells of terrifying ordeal on trip that nearly left him blind

The optician who saw Graham Welsh sent him to hospital immediately.
The optician who saw Graham Welsh sent him to hospital immediately.
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A short break to Newcastle turned into a nightmare for an IT consultant from Livingston in a terrifying ordeal that nearly left him blind in one eye.

Graham Welsh was on a trip with his wife Laura, 53, when he started “experiencing flashing lights” and vision loss.

He said: “My wife and I were visiting the North East for a few days, combining a training course for my work, with what I’d hoped would be some enjoyable down-time.

“To say that the trip didn’t work out as expected would be an understatement.

“I’d felt that something was interfering with my vision in my right eye for a couple of days but had put it out of my mind to focus on the training.

“However, when I started experiencing flashing lights and what seemed like a blob of ink filling up my eye I knew I had to get it checked out quickly.”

Having just recovered from a recent cataract surgery on his left eye, the 59-year-old couldn’t believe he was now experiencing serious problems with his right eye.

He rushed to opticians Vision Express in the city’s shopping mall, Metrocentre.

Seen by optometrist Melissa Costello, who completed a thorough eye exam and, suspecting a detached retina, referred him immediately to Newcastle’s Royal Victoria Infirmary hospital.

“The worst thing was being in a strange place, not knowing what was happening to me or knowing whether my sight was going to be affected long term,” Graham said. “Instead of journeying back home to Livingston the following morning, we headed for the hospital where the consultant confirmed that my retina was hanging on by a mere 1mm.

“I was admitted into hospital and surgery was planned for the next day.

“Everything happened so fast, but I just kept thinking how lucky I was that the optometrist acted so quickly.

“If it had been left untreated for even one more day I could have lost my sight forever.”

The procedure to re-attach Graham’s retina was a success and the following day, he returned home.

Graham’s sight is now back to normal, although he must take eye drops every night and have his eye pressures checked every six months to safeguard his sight.

Optometrist at Vision Express Metrocentre Melissa Costello, said: “Eye tests are essential for preserving your visual health and to catch any problems you may not be aware of in plenty of time, so they can be rectified.

“Graham was exceptionally lucky that his retina was still attached, albeit by a tiny amount.

“If not, he could have lost sight in his right eye forever. If anyone notices any changes in their vision, however small, it is best to seek an expert opinion straight away.”

And thanks to the quick support of Vision Express staff, Graham is calling on everyone to get regular eye tests ahead of National Eye Health Week, which runs until September 30.

newsen@edinburghnews.com