Mar 15, 2023

Seeing Clearly

By Claire Zulkey

How a routine vision check can save your life

Jackie Memije assumed she was just stressed out, so she ignored her symptoms. The whooshing in the ears, the bad headaches, the back pain, and the visual flares that looked like lightning.

Memije, a project billing specialist based in Round Lake Beach, figured anxiety from the early lockdown months of the Covid-19 pandemic was causing her symptoms — until a spur-of-the-moment optic check in early 2021 revealed signs of a brain tumor.

Regular eye exams do so much more than determine when a person needs glasses. Doctors can screen for issues like diabetes-related vision loss, glaucoma, cataracts, hypertension — even tumors.

However, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that of the estimated 93 million American adults in the United States at high risk for serious vision loss, only half visited an eye doctor in the past 12 months. More than half of American adults who don’t schedule eye care avoid screenings due to cost or lack of awareness of the preventive capabilities of eye checks.

Memije, 47, hadn’t planned on getting an optic nerve check, but she accompanied her husband, who has diabetes and high blood pressure, to a routine check at LensCrafters in Gurnee in February 2021.

“I was being goofy, and I was like, ‘I haven’t had a picture taken of my eyes in a long time. I’ll get one too,’” Memije says, referring to the back of the eye imaging known as a fundus exam. “I got my picture taken, got called back to the room, and Dr. Veronica Hene told me, ‘You need to get to the ER now.’”

The fundus exam had revealed signs of a brain tumor. At the hospital, scans did not show any tumors or lesions. However, a lumbar puncture performed later showed Memije’s cerebral spinal pressure was high.

“I had one of the worst migraine headaches I’d had in a long time. As the doctor was taking the fluid out, oh my gosh, my headaches went away instantly. It was the best feeling I had in the whole wide world,” she says.

She was diagnosed with a pseudo-tumor cerebri (false brain tumor) — high pressure within the skull caused by poor absorption of cerebrospinal fluid, which occurs mainly in women. The condition can cause severe or permanent complications, including stroke or blindness, if left untreated.

Read more: https://chicagohealthonline.com/seeing-clearly-vision-checks/

Source: Chicago Health on Line

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