A teenage girl who was misdiagnosed with migraines for six years had her life saved after a routine eye test revealed she had a deadly brain tumour.
Lauren Whittington, 17, had been experiencing severe headaches since the age of 11 but GPs had failed to spot there was something serious wrong.
The teenager was even sent to her local hospital but a neurologist just gave her strong medication for migraines.
But Lauren was shocked when her optician spotted an abnormality behind her eyes during a routine test at Specsavers on June 9 this year.
The sixth form student was referred directly to A&E at Northampton General Hospital where doctors confirmed something was causing the build-up after an ultrasound.
She was then rushed straight for an MRI scan to Nottingham University Hospital Eye Clinic where she was given the devastating news that she had a brain tumour.
Lauren had a four-hour operation to remove the tumour four days later on June 13 at Queen’s Medical Centre in Nottingham which proved successful.
She has now been told doctors are confident they removed all of the tumour which was non-malignant so hadn’t spread around her body.
Today (Thurs), Lauren, who lives in Northampton with her parents Wendy Thompson and Lloyd Whittington, both 52, said: “I’m glad my mum was with me.
“We went from having our eyes tested to me being admitted to Nottingham University hospital.
“Being told I had a tumour growing in the back of my brain was frightening but I am just glad that it was diagnosed so quickly.”
Lauren was forced to take months off school after the diagnosis but returned this September to study Psychology, Business Studies and History at A-Level.
She now has scans every three months and will continue to be scanned for five years before doctors can give her the all clear.
The teenager, who has two older brothers Nathan, 23, and Craig, 21, added: “The last couple of months have been the scariest in my life.
“I am glad to be back at school so that I can work towards completing my education.
“I plan to take a gap year after my A-levels so that I am fully recovered from my operation before I go to university where I hope to continue studying Psychology.”
Her mum Wendy, who fosters children for the Government, said: “She started suffering from migraines when she was about 11 but they went away.
“Then she had been having them again about once a week for the last two years.
“The doctor referred her to a neurologist at Northampton General Hospital and they just gave her medication for migraines. They didn’t do any scans or X-rays.
“It was just a routine eye test, we had been shopping and then we both went together.
“When the optician did the test for pressure and took a picture of our eyes, you could tell the difference between mine and Lauren’s.
“It all happened in a blur after that and a few days later she had the operation.
“We have been back and taken the optician some flowers, we are so grateful because she saved Lauren’s life.
“She probably had the tumour for years, they think that is what the migraines were related to because she hasn’t had any since.”
The abnormality behind Lauren’s eyes was picked up during a test at the Specsavers store in Northampton city centre.
Optometrist Nicole Barber said: “As part of our regular eye tests we take a digital image of the back of the eye using our state-of-the-art Fundus cameras.
“I could see that there was a build up of pressure behind Lauren’s eye which immediately rang alarm bells.”
Specsavers Northampton store director, Marinos Constantinides, added: “We’re so relieved that Lauren’s case was treated so successfully and she is now well on the way to a full recovery.
“All too often people’s symptoms are misdiagnosed and all it takes is a simple sight test to reveal a deeper problem.
“This just highlights the vital importance of having regular eye tests with highly trained opticians and specialist equipment.
“We recommend that as a minimum you should have your eyes checked every two years.
“These not only provide a prescription check but also help us monitor general eye health to track any changes and identify problems as quickly as possible.”