The symptom that saved a BBC presenter from losing her eyesight

Beautiful young girl checking the eye vision in modern ophthalmology clinic retinal detachment
A BBC newsreader has explained the one symptom she noticed that led to a retinal detachment diagnosis. (Getty Images)

A BBC newsreader has revealed the one symptom she noticed that ultimately saved her fron losing her eyesight.

Lucy Owen, a presenter for BBC Wales, says she didn’t think much of it when white flashes in her right eye began to appear.

"With my 52nd birthday around the corner, I rolled my eyes and assumed it must be another one of the joys of getting older," she wrote on the BBC.

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Through a lucky coincidence, Owen realised that the flashes were happening more frequently just as she couldn’t find her glasses so she booked in to see her optometrist.

"I noticed the optometrist kept returning to my right eye, shining in a bright light and looking inside with a strong magnifying lens," she said.

"He explained to me that my retina was in the process of detaching and those flashes had been a sign."

Owen had emergency surgery the next day and her vision has now returned.

What is retinal detachment?

A detached retina or a retinal detachment is when the thin layer at the back of your eye (the retina) becomes loose.

According to the NHS, if it’s not treated quickly it can cause permanent damage to your eyesight.

Retinal detachment signs and symptoms

There are three major signs that you could have, or be in the process of having, a detached retina. These include:

  • Flashes of light in your eye or ‘floating’ dots and lines

  • A dark curtain or shadow in your vision

  • Changes to your eyesight like blurred vision

If you have any of these symptoms, the NHS recommends calling its 111 helpline to get advice on what to do next.

Light beam is shining through retina and lens on eyesight exam
Retinal detachment is when someone's retina becomes loose at the back of their eye. (Getty Images)

Detached retina causes

The NHS says a detached retina is "usually caused by changes to the jelly inside your eye, which can happen as you get older. This is called posterior vitreous detachment (PVD)".

It explains that it is not known why PVD happens in some people and there is no way to prevent it, but it is more likely to happen if you are short sighted, have had a previous eye injury, have had an eye operation, or have a family history of retinal detachment.

Retinal detachment treatment

If you are diagnosed with a detached retina, surgery is often the recommended treatment to stop any further damage to your vision.

How often should you see an optometrist?

The NHS recommends getting your eyes tested every two years. While some people (such as those aged under 16 and over 60) are eligible for free eye tests, those not eligible will need to pay for one.

It says that your eyes rarely hurt when something is wrong, which why it is worth getting an eye check every two years to make sure everything is working as it should - even if you haven’t noticed any symptoms.

You can find out more about free NHS eye tests here.