Fireman James supports eye care campaign

Coleraine fireman, James Campbell, pictured in the House of Lords with RNIB Campaign ambassador Penny Lancaster.
Coleraine fireman, James Campbell, pictured in the House of Lords with RNIB Campaign ambassador Penny Lancaster.
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Coleraine fireman James Campbell has shared his story of life-saving eye surgery at the launch of a national £3 million RNIB and Specsavers’ Transforming Eye Health awareness campaign in the House of Lords, London.

Now in great health, James is keen to spread the word about the importance of looking after your eyes.

James said: “You don’t realise how important your eye sight is until you are in the position I was in. I am so thankful to everyone who was involved in my care and fully support RNIB and Specsavers in this incredibly important campaign.”

Waking one morning with blurred vision in his left eye, James made a quick call to Specsavers in Coleraine to have a routine check. A few hours later he was to receive information which effectively changed his life.

Using specialised equipment, Specsavers optician Jill Cummings spotted signs of a tumour. As an optician she couldn’t get a definite diagnosis but she was instantly aware from the detailed picture taken of the back of James’s eye that further investigation was needed.

Later that day James was seen by a consultant at Altnagelvin Hospital who confirmed that he had a choroidal melanoma, or potentially cancerous tumour, behind the eye.

Within two weeks he was in Royal Liverpool Hospital having life-saving surgery by one of the world’s leading specialists in eye cancer, Professor Bertil Damato.

James travelled to London to attend the launch of the RNIB and Specsavers’ Transforming Eye Health awareness campaign with his wife Fiona. The event h was hosted by Lord Dow of Dalston, CBE, Co-chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Groupon Eye Health and Visual Impairment.

It was attended by leading figures from the optical, healthcare and charitable professions, including RNIB President Dame Gail Ronson DBE, RNIB Vice-President and campaign ambassador Penny Lancaster (Lady Stewart), as well as Specsavers co-founders Doug and Dame Mary Perkins.

More than six million people in the UK live with sight-threatening conditions or uncorrected refractive error. Some may not yet be experiencing any symptoms and may have no idea that anything is wrong.

“Of these, more than two million people are living with sight loss that has a significant impact on their daily lives. This figure is set to increase to more than 2.7 million by 2030, driven by an increase in the UK’s ageing demographic.

Specsavers founder Doug Perkins said: 2It’s astonishing that so many people are needlessly living with or at risk of sight loss in the UK today. Nearly half of all sight loss cases are preventable – and a simple eye test can be the first step in prevention.”