A WOMAN has praised her local optician after he spotted a very rare form of cancer during her eye exam. 

Kathleen McCallum went for her eye exam at Urquhart Opticians in March last year when optician Neil Gray spotted an irregularity and immediately referred her to the hospital.

Kathleen was rushed to hospital in Glasgow the following morning in Glasgow where she was diagnosed with uveal melanoma and was given only two options.

The 54-year-old told the News: "I was referred to Scotland's eye centre after Neil spotted something unusual during the test.

"If he could have got me to the hospital that afternoon he would have, but it was there I was diagnosed with it. 

"It wasn't giving me too many problems as it was hiding. This allowed the tumour to get quite large.

"I was told that the two options were proton beam therapy - a type of radiotherapy - or removing my eye. I knew from that moment what I had to do."

Kathleen, from West Kilbride, decided to have her eye removed and a prosthetic eye fitted in its place on the recommendation of her doctor.

She continued: "It is quite phenomenal because hardly anyone notices it. You learn to adapt very quickly when it comes to a procedure like that."

Kathleen has since raised over £4,500 at a birthday fundraiser for the charity OcuMel, which supports anyone affected by eye cancer.

Largs and Millport Weekly News: Kathleen urges everyone to look after their eyesKathleen urges everyone to look after their eyes (Image: Newsquest)

The West Kilbride resident is now hoping to raise awareness of Uveal melanoma and to highlight the importance of eye care.

"I will never be able to express how important it is to look after your eyes", explained Kathleen.

"After my diagnosis, it inspired me to give back, so on July 29, I threw a birthday party in my garden.  

"I invited friends and family members and told them I didn't want birthday presents, but a donation instead.

"We had a great day. It was Italian-themed so we had a swing singer, Roger and Bernie's did all the catering, and people's glasses were filled. I just wanted to celebrate a year on from the diagnosis, as well as raise money for an incredible cause.

"The opticians are worth their weight in gold in spotting a lot of problems. The only piece of advice I have is to go and get your eyes tested. It is so important to make sure you look after your eyes.

"I cannot stress the importance of having your eye dilated when tested. It could save your life. That’s the biggest message for eye health that I have. 

"Now I take each day as it comes and it makes you live life to the fullest."

And Kathleen had a special thanks for Neil for the care he gave her after discovering the irregularity.

"If it had been left any longer undiscovered the outcome would have been so different. I was so appreciative when I found out that they gave me a cheque towards the cause."

Neil added: “Kathleen's condition highlights the importance of regular eye health checks - and although choroidal melanoma is very rare, it shows what can be picked up upon routine examination.

"We are very fortunate that eye exams are still funded by the NHS in Scotland, so I strongly encourage everyone, regardless of age or symptoms, to attend at least once every two years.

"I always say to patients we would much rather find something and deal with it sooner rather than later when in some cases it can be sight or life-threatening.

"As a business, we are delighted to support Kathleen in her charity work with OcuMel UK.”