A BARRY man has thanked a quick-thinking optometrist, whose speedy action may well have saved his sight.
71-year-old William Morris, of Cadoxton, praised Specsavers' Kathryn Martin after she immediately recognised that his symptoms - dark patches and heavy blobs in his vision - could be serious and related to his diabetes.
Mr Morris was making a visit to the Holton Road store, believing that a new set of glasses was the cause of the impairment.
But hearing his symptoms, Kathryn, who was fully booked at the time, saw him straight away and discovered a serious retinal bleed caused by diabetes retinopathy, which can lead to blindness.
She immediately referred Mr Morris to the University Hospital of Wales. He was seen within two hours, and underwent emergency laser treatment to stop the bleed and save his sight.
He has now been put on a course of regular laser treatment to continue his recovery and stop the progression of the condition.
"I'd recently bought a new pair of glasses, so I thought the problems with my sight could have been caused by that," said Mr Morris.
"I knew it was serious though, when Kath squeezed me in for an emergency appointment and immediately got on the phone to the hospital to have me seen straight away.
"The Specsavers store even phoned my wife, Jenny, to explain the situation to her so she could leave work and come and pick me up to take me to hospital. Because of their urgency, I was seen within an hour and a half."
Doctors told Mr Morris he would eventually have lost his sight if the bleed had not been stopped, and he has since been referred to a specialist to monitor his progress.
"I am extremely grateful to Kath and the whole team at Specsavers," he added.
"What they did for me was marvellous, and well over and above the call of duty.
"Sight is precious to everyone, but I like to read a lot and I'm studying for lay preaching and take services at churches across south Wales so losing my sight would have hit me quite hard."
Optometrist Kathryn said: "After Mr Morris came in complaining of vision problems, knowing he was a diabetes sufferer, I was keen to examine him that day.
"Using our digital photography we were able to see that there were clear blood spots on the retina, and I knew then that he had to be referred to hospital immediately.
"I'm delighted that his treatment has been successful and he hasn't experienced any further problems with his sight."
Mr Morris returned to Specsavers last week to thank Kathryn and to present her with a card and a box of chocolates.
"I'm a regular customer and the staff are fantastic," he added.
"I once had a hyperglycaemic attack while in store and they looked after me and made sure I was okay.
"But what they did for me in getting me to hospital quickly that day was incredible, and I hope that my story will encourage others to have their eyes tested regularly."
Diabetic retinopathy is caused by complications from diabetes and can eventually lead to blindness. It is common in those that have suffered from diabetes for a long period of their life.