Eye Exam Detects Golf-Ball-Size Brain Tumor and Saves 8-Year-Old’s Life
An eight-year-old Atlanta girl had such severe headaches that she awoke screaming in the night. A doctor prescribed migraine medication, but decided a comprehensive eye exam was in order. The girl’s mother believes that decision may have saved her daughter’s life.
The eye exam indicated there was swelling on the brain and that something might be pressing on the optic nerve tract. At the emergency room, imaging tests revealed a golf-ball-sized tumor. It wasn’t malignant, but treatment kept the girl in the hospital for a month. She has since recovered and is now attending second grade.
In an interview with WSB-TV Atlanta, optometric physician Kristin Bender said that simple school vision screenings don’t catch potential health problems.
American Optometric Association (AOA) President Andrea P. Thau, O.D., agrees. In an interview with Care2, she said while tumors of that type aren’t common, they can be life threatening. As the tumor grows, it squeezes and presses on the brain and can cause stroke or other loss of function.
“The eye is an extension of the brain,” said Thau. “We’re able to pick up on problems by the appearance of nerves, pupil responses, and eye tracking. I’ve picked up on brain tumors and aneurysms in my practice. Most of the time, people only have mild symptoms when they come in for an exam, without realizing something significant is going on. A comprehensive eye exam can save or change someone’s life.”
Thau said she once detected a pituitary tumor based on her patient’s vision. She said there are many other neurological and health problems that can be detected during a comprehensive eye exam, including multiple sclerosis (MS).