Dubliner hailed for spotting brain tumour during student’s visit to opticians

Rachel Cunningham

Dubliner Ciara Nί Chléirigh has been hailed for the way she observed during her work as an optometrist how a patient could have been suffering with a brain tumour.

Debora Krut, a Spanish student at Trinity College in Oxford had been experiencing concerning symptoms including her vision going completely black for 10 seconds. She visited the hospital and it was recommended that she make an emergency optician appointment, leading her to book into Specsavers on Queen Street, Oxford in England, where she was seen by Ms Ní Chléirigh.

Ms Ní Chléirigh, a former Mount Anville and Dublin Institute of Technology student, explained: “When I used the volk lens and a special microscope called a slit lamp, which helps me view the eye in more detail, I could see a swelling on the optic nerve at the back of the eye which was a sign of papilloedema, usually caused by an increase of pressure in the head around the brain.

“I explained to Debora that what I’d seen needed further examination and gave her a letter to take with her to hospital. She was worried about missing a tutorial but without trying to alarm her too much, I explained that she needed to go straight away.”

Further tests at John Radcliffe Hospital confirmed Ms Krut had a build-up of pressure around her brain and she was admitted that evening. The pressure increase had been caused by hydrocephalus, a build up of fluid, the root cause of which was a tumour in her brain.

To remove the tumour, the student underwent two surgeries, followed by six and a half weeks of specialist proton beam therapy in Manchester. She will continue to be monitored by getting scanned every four months and will be declared in remission in five years’ time, provided no growth returns.

Ms Ní Chléirigh commented: “Thankfully, instances such as these are rare, but it also highlights the crucial role eye examinations play in picking up conditions.”

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