A woman who thought she was suffering from hay fever was shocked to discover her stinging eyes were caused by a brain tumour.
Gurcharan Kaur, 30, from Wolverhampton, suffered irritated eyes for weeks but shrugged it off as an allergy caused by pollen or dust and dosed up on antihistamines.
Sightseeing in London last month, Kaur noticed her eye was becoming more irritable than normal and it was becoming painful to blink.
The Etsy business owner walked past an opticians and decided it was time to get some help. Despite initially being told to use eye drops, she returned and a test revealed she had optical nerve damage on her left eye.
Doctors discovered she had a small colloid cyst – a slow-growing tumour in the centre of her brain, behind her left eye. Kaur was weeks away from developing seizures, they said, and she had brain surgery to remove the benign mass.
Now tumour-free, Kaur wants to warn others of downplaying possible life-threatening symptoms. “I just thought I was developing hay fever,” she said.
“My eye would just sting in the morning but I’d just take an antihistamine and it would go away.
“I knew you could develop it at any time and I just thought it was just a case of that. I’d also been feeling dizzy and tired for a couple of months but I just shrugged it off.
“I’ve always had perfect vision so it didn’t even cross my mind it would be something this serious.”
Kaur was on her way to meet older sister Sharan, 36, last month when she was spurred into action. She walked past Vision Express and decided to pop in, but she couldn’t get an instant appointment, and experts advised her to get eye wash, she said.
“My sister was still at her job interview so I had a bit of time by myself,” she recalled. “I only went in there on a whim. I didn’t actually think I had something wrong with me. It was just a coincidence that I walked past it.”
A few hours later Kaur returned to the Oxford Street store after noticing her left eye was beginning to turn red. Staff did a standard eye test and discovered Kaur – who hadn’t had an eye appointment in 10 years – had optical nerve damage on her left eye.
She said: “I just kept complaining about how much it hurt. I kept getting my mirror out of my bag to check if there was anything in my eye.
“My eye was just really, really itchy.
“I only went back as my sister was getting bored of me banging on about it.”
Kaur said the last time she went to the opticians she was told she had 20:20 vision, “so it just didn’t seem right”.
“I went up to the desk and the employee went to get a second opinion,” she continued. “A different member of staff saw me this time and said they could squeeze me in.”
She was referred for a CT scan, and the pair took the train home and went straight to New Cross Hospital in Wolverhampton.
Doctors discovered abnormal fluid on her brain, and a further scan revealed a small colloid cyst behind her left eye. They warned she was weeks away from developing seizures.
Days later she had a two-hour operation which saw doctors remove the mass through minimal invasive surgery, sending Kaur home with a two-month course of epilepsy tablets.
“Thankfully it wasn’t any bigger,” she said of the tumour. “I’ve been scared for my life. I just want to warn people about ignoring what can be quite serious symptoms.”