Opticians helps to detect sister’s skin cancer

WHEN optician Lisa James was approached by her concerned sister who was suffering redness in one eye, she actually discovered something far more sinister.

Lisa, optometrist and director of Specsavers Ópticas in Guardamar, raised the alarm when her sister Joanne Stapleton sent a photo of her eye to check everything was ok.

Lisa looked closely at the image, and although the redness was nothing to worry about, she noticed a lesion near the eye, which she suspected was a common type of skin cancer called basal cell carcinoma, also known as rodent ulcer.

Lisa advised Joanne to visit her doctor, as left untreated it could damage skin and tissue. Joanne was quickly referred to a specialist for assessment, who confirmed Lisa’s diagnosis and Joanne underwent surgery to have the skin cancer removed. Joanne is fine and no further treatment is required, but she will continue to have six-month check-ups with the specialist.

Speaking about the moment she spotted the skin cancer, Lisa says: ‘I was so pleased that Joanne sent me through the picture of her eyes and I was able to identify the basal cell carcinoma. It is the most common form of skin cancer that appears as a small, non-healing crusty spot.

On close inspection you can see the edges roll inwards and the centre has a crusty pit in the middle. They can grow very slowly, but they continue to ulcerate the surrounding skin and grow bigger over time. Left untreated they become invasive and destroy skin and bone.’

It is something I look out for during an eye test, as they can form on the face of glasses wearers where there are pressure points, for example where the nose pads and bottom of frames rest.’

Lisa says that it is not only glasses wearers that are at risk. Basal cell carcinoma can also appear on the eyelids and the cheeks, and any other part of the body exposed to UV radiation.

She continues: ‘They aren’t usually malignant, although in rare cases they can become life threatening, so it is important to have them investigated and removed for analysis and to stop them spreading.  They are caused by damage, which is caused by overexposure to UV radiation from the sun and using sunbeds. Skin protection with high UV blocking creams and large sunglasses are recommended to protect the eyes and delicate skin around the eye area from dangerous UV radiation.’

Lisa says it is important to contact an optometrist if you have any concerns about the health of your eyes or your vision. Regular eye tests are essential for clear, comfortable vision.

They are an important health check too – the optometrist checks the health of your eyes and can find indications of other medical conditions, so can refer you for further tests and treatment if necessary. It’s recommended to have an eye test every two years from the age of three upwards and then annually after the age of 70, or if you have any medical conditions which could affect your sight.

Specsavers Ópticas in Guardamar is located on Avda. País Valenciano 43-Bajo, Guardamar Del Segura and offers complete eye tests free of charge. You will also find stores in Javea, Calpe, Benidorm, Torrevieja and La Zenia on the Costa Blanca. Visit www.specsavers.es to find your nearest store.

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