A GRATEFUL grandmother has undergone lifesaving treatment after her optician spotted signs of an undiagnosed stroke.

Kath Brookes from Bugthorpe in East Yorkshire began feeling something in her head, which she said just didn’t feel right and made her feel unwell. Although the 66-year-old was initially concerned she had suffered a stroke, she had none of the usual symptoms cited in Public Health England’s stroke campaign – Act FAST.

“As well having a particularly unusual feeling in my head, I couldn’t focus my vision properly and felt like I was being dazzled with a bright light,” Kath said.

“I was aware of the common stroke symptoms from the Act FAST TV adverts, and we were really worried it was a stroke at first. However, I had no weakness to my face, I hadn’t any concerns about my speech and I could still raise my arms.”

Despite not showing typical symptoms, Kath’s daughter, Jennifer Pashby, was still extremely concerned, so took her to hospital.

Kath, who is grandma to Grace, Charlie, Jake and Lewis, said: “After looking at all of the signs, my symptoms were put down to a virus, and I was told to return home and take paracetamol. However the problem persisted, so we went to our local doctors, where I was again diagnosed with a virus. As the concern was mainly with my vision - and we knew opticians could see behind the eyes - we then decided to book an eye test in at Specsavers, Vangarde in January.”

Kath was seen by the store’s optometrist Leanne Ellison, who conducted an eye test.

“She assessed my periphery vision, which she spotted some anomalies in - as I had lost some vision in the top-left hand quarter of my left eye. Although she wasn’t conclusive on the cause of the loss, Leanne was meticulous in listening carefully and addressing our concerns - she wouldn’t let it go and was determined we got to the bottom of the issue.

“Leanne referred me to York Hospital as soon as she could and I was seen by an eye specialist the following day. The hospital conducted a scan, where our fears were confirmed, that I had suffered a stroke.”

Following the news, Kath was subsequently put on anticoagulants and - apart from only slow improvements to her eyesight - has since made a full recovery.

Kath said: “I’ve been incredibly lucky.

“If it wasn’t for Leanne’s determination, the outcome could easily have been life threatening for me, and since my ordeal, I’ve heard of other people from friends and family, who have had similar stroke-like symptoms from eyesight concerns.

“Strokes affect our brains, and - as this is where our vision is processed - issues with field loss, blurry vision or visual processing can all be signs of a stroke. I really want to use my experience to raise awareness of this and to make sure others can spot and get treatment quickly to minimise the impact.”

Kath’s other daughter, Alison Brookes, said Leanne at Specsavers had been brilliant.

She said: “We all knew mum’s condition was really serious, despite the initial reassurance from our doctors and Leanne made it her business to get to the bottom of the problem.

“If Leanne hadn’t had the gumption and determination, the stroke would’ve been missed, and we could be having a very different 2021.”

Leanne said: “When Mrs Brookes came to see us, she had a few unusual symptoms which we were quite worried about, so I was determined to find out what was going on.

“We thankfully managed to get to the bottom of the cause, after her referral to hospital, to find out what the root cause of the problem was. I’m just really pleased we were able to identify the cause, and with time, that Mrs Brookes will be feeling like herself again.

“It just illustrates the importance of ensuring that we all should attend our regular check-ups, and we should all get ourselves tested if we feel like something isn’t right.”