Laurence’s story

Returning from a trip abroad I came down with a debilitating bug that hit my system very hard. Following referrals from my GP to specialists and a trip to the hospital the complaint finally began to die down after a few weeks. I had noticed both my eyes, particularly the right eye, was bloodshot but in the general inventory of damage to my body shrugged it off as natural stress from the bug.

My eyes however, continued to redden even though I recovered from the initial complaint so I began to take over the counter eye drops. Following a week of this my eyes worsened and on awaking one Saturday morning found my right eye had significant “fogging”. In other words imagine trying to see out of glasses with severe smudging.

My wife drove me to an emergency GP surgery where I was extremely fortunate to be seen by a locum who had spent a rotation at one of London’s eye hospitals. Having examined me he immediately referred me to an eye hospital for assessment. After a considerable length of time I was diagnosed with having a form of Uveitis in my right eye, but not the left, and was prescribed a course of steroids.

My experience with the normally wonderful NHS with regards to my Uveitis was not a great one; and in some concern sought private advice from a senior consultant who confirmed my suspicion that the left eye was also suffering from a form of Uveitis.

I would suggest to anyone they take careful notes from the NHS doctor they see regarding the prescription and ensure the dosage instructions given by the Nurse issuing the prescription is consistent.

Also think very carefully, in advance how you are going to get access to medicine if you are having aggressive treatment, as you do not want to run out and wait four and a half hours for a repeat prescription if you can’t access your GP (working late/run out of drugs).

With both eyes now deteriorating (20%, 30% approximate reduction in Left and Right respectively) my consultant prescribed eye-drop steroids. The consultant was excellent and the course prescribed utterly correct as my eyes have recovered extremely well (although rather bizarrely the disease has changed the shape of my eye).

I would say though that the taking of steroids was one of the least pleasant experiences of my life.  Having never taken steroids before I did know my Grandfather reacted badly to them (much stronger versions for Leukemia treatment during the 1970’s) and unfortunately I shared his predisposition.  Full migraine headaches, stroke like symptoms including severe numbing of one side of the body and mouth, collapsing, sight sometimes full of coloured lights all ensued.

Luckily my sight improved fairly rapidly and I was able stop taking the steroids ASAP although I still get migraine headaches.

I can’t thank the founders of Olivia’s Vision enough for the support they gave me through what was a very frightening time. My personal experience is that there is a significant lack of information and support available to those with this eye complaint and the capacity of doctors time needed to effectively treat, what I believe is a fairly complex disease, is not available in the public health sector. As a resource for information and support Olivia’s Vision provides an invaluable tool. Uveitis effects those of all ages (I myself am in my early thirties) and can strike at anytime; resources and advice for this less well known disease is key for individuals, parents and carers alike.

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