Routine eye examination prevents stroke

Phil Callahan with optometrist Leigh Plowman. PHOTO SOURCE: Colac Herald

A man has avoided having a stroke thanks to a routine eye examination with his optometrist.

Phil Callahan, from Colac in Victoria, went to see his optometrist because he thought he needed new glasses. The ensuing eye examination alerted his optometrist Leigh Plowman to an embolus in Mr Callahan’s right eye, an indicator that a stroke could be imminent.

When Leigh examined his patient’s eyes, he noticed a little white fleck in a blood vessel of the eye. He encouraged Mr Callahan to visit his doctor urgently because it was likely the embolus signified a blockage in the carotid arteries in his neck.

Leigh’s prompt actions ensured the appropriate action was taken, as an MRI and medical diagnosis confirmed that his right artery was 75 to 80 per cent blocked, and his doctor confirmed that he would very likely have had a stroke within 12 months had he failed to address the issue.

“Leigh’s actions are evidence of the valuable public health role that optometrists have.  With a highly skilled optometry workforce in Australia, a comprehensive eye examination can save a life,” said Luke Arundel, resident optometrist for Optometry Australia.  

“Throughout life we are conditioned to see a dentist regularly. We will not hesitate to see a doctor or to head to a pharmacy. Yet, when it comes to our eyes, perhaps one of our most vital organs for living a fulfilling life, the majority of Australians remain oblivious to the need to have their eyes examined at regular intervals throughout life.

“Indeed comprehensive eye examinations can identify more than just vision loss, they can also lead to the early detection of stroke, heart disease, diabetes and more, as we have seen in Mr Callahan’s case,” he said.

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