Don’t be blind to eye examinations

Mike Kirkley
Mike Kirkley

AS a busy businessman who spends much of his time rushing around the country, Mike Kirkley does not have much time for people who nag at him.

But he is glad that he made an exception in the case of Amar Shah because the optometrist’s constant badgering led him to take action that he says could well have saved his life.

Concerns following a check-up meant Mr Kirkley, from Morpeth, went to the doctors and tests revealed there was a risk of prostate cancer so he had an operation.

Now he is promoting a national campaign to raise awareness of the importance of receiving eye examinations.

Recalling the story that happened six years ago, the head of a major optical company said things developed when he visited Mr Shah’s opticians in Bristol on routine business and decided he might as well get his eyes checked out.

“During the examination, Amar found changes in the lens structure in my eye and suggested I ought to have them checked out.

“Later we went for a meal and he kept on at me, saying ‘You will get that looked at, won’t you?’ And as if that wasn’t enough he even followed it up with an email.”

It was the email that did it. Mr Kirkley succumbed and made time for a full-body examination, which, among other areas, involved investigation of the prostate and a PSA (prostate specific antigen) blood test.

He added: “It came back with a high reading so, obviously concerned – especially as at the time I was 51, which is reckoned to be young for prostate cancer – I went to a prostate clinic in London, where tests showed mine was 45 per cent cancerous.

“They told me I could leave it well alone and hope the cancer didn’t move, or have it out with the risk that might cause it to spread.”

Mr Kirkley opted for the operation and follow-ups every six months since have shown he is still clear.

As part of the JUL-EYE campaign, he is urging people to visit a local optician this month to get their eyes tested and receive advice about how to keep them in tip-top condition.

He said: “If anyone is going to argue the case for having your eyes examined, it’s going to be me, isn’t it?

“Amar’s spotting something unusual, not to mention his persistence afterwards, arguably saved my life.

“If the JUL-EYE campaign manages to do the same for just one person by getting them to visit an optician, it will have been well worth the effort.”

The campaign’s website – www.whatsyoureyeq.co.uk – includes an EYE-Q quiz, so people can find out how eye savvy they are, and an optician finder tool.