A 15-year-old school pupil has been hailed a hero after helping to save a man’s eyesight.
Alexander Pickering, who attends Ripon Grammar School, was on a placement at Specsavers in Ripon when a man came in suffering from blurred vision.
The work experience student ran a scan for John Morgan which alerted the optician to something unusual in the retina, Yorkshire Live reports.
Mr Morgan was then put on an urgent referral to Harrogate Hospital, which revealed a dangerous blockage in his main retinal vein.
The condition can lead to a permanent loss of vision but thanks to Alexander, Mr Morgan was diagnosed early so his eye and vision should be saved.
Mr Morgan said: “Thankfully, because I was diagnosed so early, there is a chance I can save my eye and maintain some vision.”
Alexander was trained to use the 3D optical diagnostic scanner, which can detect sight-threatening eye conditions early on. Alex said he was so happy to be of help.
He said: “I was really pleased that the pre-test I did picked up Mr Morgan’s eye condition.
“Thankfully, the optician was able to confirm the diagnosis and contacted the hospital to make an immediate appointment for him. If it had not been picked up, he could have gone blind.”
The Year 10 student will be taking his GCSEs next year and is aiming for a career in healthcare. He said he was never expecting to learn so much during his work experience at Specsavers.
Alexander said: “I was thrilled to play a small part in a much bigger team of people at Specsavers, in helping to save someone’s sight.
“I never expected to learn so much and achieve something so worthwhile during my work experience.”
Mr Morgan, from Salford, who is keen to raise awareness about the importance of regular eye examinations following his shock diagnosis, will now need an injection in his eye every month for the next year
“I may not fully get all of my vision back, however, if undiagnosed, I could have completely gone blind in that eye,” he said.
He praised the whole Specsavers team for their speedy reaction and support, giving specific praise to Alex, saying: “Alexander, who was on a work placement and conducted the pre-test, initially scanned my eye and flagged an issue with optician Caroline Sullivan immediately.
“The team at Ripon Specsavers were fantastic and got me in for an appointment straight away and even organised my hospital appointment.
“My experience shows how a routine eye test can help diagnose other worrying health issues and I’d urge everyone to book in an eye exam, no matter how small they feel the problem may be,” said John.
He added: “Alexander was very polite and confident in what he was doing. I am sure he will make a success of whatever career he chooses. He is a credit to his parents and his school.”
Alexander has now been offered part-time work as a customer services assistant in the store as well as his work experience placement. He is also being trained in the use of scanning equipment.
“The experience has helped improve my communication skills and self-confidence and also encouraged me to explore various career options,” he said.
Annette Duffy, director at Specsavers, Ripon, explained how the store’s optical coherence tomography (OCT) machines combined with staff expertise enabled such a speedy diagnosis.
She said: “We now use OCT machines in many of our stores, which use light to take more than 1,000 images of the back of the eye and optic nerve. These machines can locate issues before they become a major issue and help detect diseases such as glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy, macular degeneration and even tumours.
“Many people may feel their eyesight is of a high standard, however, we are urging people to recognise how our advanced technology and routine eye exams can help detect other health issues.”