A High Peak woman who was hours away from going blind in one eye is urging people not to take their sight for granted.
Psychologist and novelist Dr Penny Goldsborough, from Combs, was planting lavender in her garden in August when she felt something in her eye.
The 61-year-old said: “It didn’t hurt. I thought I just had a cobweb in my eye, but it wouldn’t go and it’s only now, looking back, that I realise just how close I was to going blind.”
Penny, who has been wearing glasses since the age of 18, rang her local optician and made an appointment.
She was seen by optometrist Steven Pickering, from Vision Express in Buxton, who discovered a haemorrhage behind one of her eyes - the largest he had ever seen.
He immediately made an emergency appointment for her at Stepping Hill Hospital for the same day.
Penny, a mother-of-two, said: “I wasn’t scared at that point. It was only when I got to hospital and theatre had stopped, but someone took my handbag and told me I was going into surgery immediately, that I realised just how serious it was.
“I was told there wasn’t the time to wait until tomorrow as I could go blind.”
Penny’s haemorrhage was treated with laser surgery, which she underwent while awake but under a local anaesthetic.
Penny has now recovered from the operation, but still does not like driving at night because of the glare from headlights.
She said: “The floater, as the optician called it, was not caused through bad diet or poor lifestyle choices - it just happened, and it could happen to anyone.
“People take their sight for granted but I came so close to losing my vision and it’s quite scary to think about what I wouldn’t have been able to do.
“I am an author, so I wouldn’t have been able to write anymore or drive, so I do realise how lucky I am.
“My outlook on life has changed now. I know how close I came to my life changing forever and it’s a very sobering thought. I just want to raise awareness and encourage more people to go for regular eye tests so problems like this can be spotted.”
Explaining the importance of regular eye tests, Penny said: “More people go to the dentist every year than go to the opticians, which is just ridiculous.
“As horrible and sometimes painful as the dentist can be we all go and we all pay because it’s better than the alternative of toothache, but we don’t think about going blind. I want more people to book an appointment to the opticians. It’s painless and only takes 10 minutes.”
Penny is backing the Road Safety Week 2017 campaign by Vision Express, which is offering a free eye test for all, in a bid to reduce road incidents attributed to poor sight.
Around 2,900 road casualties per year are thought to be down to people getting behind the wheel with below-par vision.
Optometrist Steven Pickering added: “Penny’s story really brings home the importance of eye tests in preventing sight loss. If she had delayed voicing her concerns, she may not have had such a positive outcome.”