A ROYAL Navy veteran has told how a routine visit to his optician may have saved his life.

Michael Johnson, 71, popped into Specsavers in Bridgwater High Street for his regular check-up, only to discover he had a rare cancer.

Michael’s optometrist Steve Rosser, who discovered a problem with Michael’s right eye during his examination, said: “Michael hadn’t complained of any symptoms when he arrived so I had no reason to be concerned; however, my suspicions arose when I used the store’s digital retinal camera to take a photograph of the back of his eye.

“It was clear from the image that there was something seriously wrong with Michael’s eye.’
After consulting with his assistant, Steve referred Michael to a specialist at Musgrove Park Hospital, Taunton.

After a series of tests, he was sent to the Royal Liverpool University Hospital where he was diagnosed with a rare form of eye cancer called chorodial melanoma.

Michael, who served in the Royal Navy for more than 40 years, said: “I’d had so many tests that when I was officially diagnosed I already had a feeling it could be cancer.

“As the eye is so fragile it limits the treatment options and quite often with these cancers your eye needs to be amputated.

“The specialist in Liverpool told me about a therapy which uses proton beams to sterilise the cancer cells which are then safely removed, so I decided to go for it."

There is only one centre with the machinery capable of delivering this type of radiotherapy for eye cancers – the Clatterbridge Centre for Oncology on the Wirral – and after two weeks there Michael was given the all-clear, although he will need regular check-ups.

Michael added: “I’ve been so lucky in many ways, thanks to the specialists in Clatterbridge and Liverpool, and to Steve at Specsavers. Without them I could have lost my eye or the cancer could have spread and become life-threatening.”