SKILLED opticians in Minehead have been praised for acting quickly when they spotted a woman’s rare cancer during a routine eye test.

Catherine Simmons visited the town’s Specsavers store, in The Parade, for an eye test after she broke her glasses and needed new ones.

As part of her appointment she opted for a scan by the store’s OCT machine, a hospital-quality technology which can enable opticians to detect any abnormalities at their earliest stage.

Mrs Simmons, aged 74, who lives in Minehead, said: “When I went to Specsavers I was not expecting to be referred on for anything like this, but if it had gone unnoticed, I dread to think what would have happened.

“People are often quick to complain about the services they receive in life, but they rarely congratulate people when they provide a good service, so I have said a heartfelt ‘thank you’ to the team in Minehead.

“I am so grateful to them. They were superb.

“They saw there was a change in my left eye.

“It was only small, like a freckle, but they immediately referred me to Musgrove Park Hospital, and when I saw the doctor he said he was concerned and wanted to refer me on again.

“There are only two hospitals that could do what was needed, in London and Liverpool.

“I went to Liverpool and they were absolutely amazing.

“The freckle had grown just a bit in that short time and the doctor confirmed it was cancer, so they lasered it there and then.

“I then had to go back three months later. The cancer had not grown, but they did laser it once more.

“There are no promises in life, but they do think they have got it early enough.”

Eye cancer is rare but often curable if it is diagnosed when it is small and contained within the eye.

Mrs Simmons urged people to have regular eye tests so any rare conditions they might have could be spotted and treated early.

She said: “Many people do not have an eye test unless they are having new glasses, but they should have it more regularly.

“I had put off and put off having my eyes tested because I was so busy.

“But if I had put it off any longer, the consequences do not bear thinking about.”

Specsavers Minehead optometrist director Paul Bradford said: “Positive outcomes such as Mrs Simmons’ are the highlight of what we do here.

“It is wonderful to know the impact our diagnosis has had on her life.

“Her advice about keeping up with routine eye tests is spot on because the OCT test enabled our optometrist to pick up the early signs of her condition and she could then refer Mrs Simmons immediately for treatment at an early stage.

“I hope that Mrs Simmons’ story can encourage others to keep up with their regular sight tests, because not everyone realises that the sight test is more than just whether you need glasses or not.”