Opticians’ test saved boy’s life

Doctors twice misdiagnosed 10-year-old Lewis Sykes, whose brain tumour was found at Specsavers.
Doctors twice misdiagnosed 10-year-old Lewis Sykes, whose brain tumour was found at Specsavers.
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A 10-year-old boy who was twice misdiagnosed by doctors is today recovering from major surgery on his brain - after an eye test discovered a deadly tumour.

Little Lewis Sykes, from St Annes, was twice told by doctors he was suffering from the flu and was sent home with medicines.

But when he then started complaining of headaches, double vision and a twitch on his eye, his mum Lisa Milnes decided to take him to Specsavers opticians.

And it was there opticians discovered there was something causing his retina to swell and told Miss Milnes to get Lewis, a pupil at Lytham Hall Park Primary School, to hospital immediately.

Doctors at Blackpool Victoria Hospital then confirmed a tumour in Lewis’s brain, and immediately sent him to Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital where he was operated on the following day – January 14.

The operation to remove the tumour was nine hours long. He was found to have a grade-four cancerous tumour – the highest level.

Today, the brave football-mad youngster, a keen Manchester United supporter, is still in hospital, about to start a course of chemotherapy followed by radiation therapy.

He is also having physiotherapy as the operation has left him needing help to walk and he is still suffering vision problems in his right eye.

Doctors have given him an 85 per cent chance of making a full recovery.

His great-grandma Carol Truckell, 69, from Lytham said: “We’re all in shock, you don’t think something like this is going to happen to your own family. We all just thought he was coming down with a cold and that he’d get better.

“Over the Christmas period he got really sick and kept saying he had headaches. We took him to the doctors and they just said they thought he had a bug that had been going around.”

When Lewis went back to school after Christmas his family noticed his eye was twitching.

Mrs Truckell said: “I asked him if he was OK and he told me he had fallen at school.

“I took him to the doctors and they told me it was a virus and gave him antibiotics.”

But after Lewis started becoming sensitive to light, Miss Milnes took her son to the opticians.

Mrs Truckell said: “Once he’d completed his examination the optician started writing a note and told Lisa to get to Blackpool Vic urgently.”

It was there doctors discovered the tumour was putting pressure on his spinal nerve, which was causing a build up of spinal fluid behind his eye.

Mrs Truckell said: “Even after the surgery the retina is still swollen. If it doesn’t fix itself, he’ll have to have another operation in the next 12 months.”

Miss Mills, 28, has been given time off her social work course at the University of Central Lancashire to be by Lewis’s side. Mrs Truckell said: “It’s awful for her. Lewis is such a character, and a bit of a joker, but he’s not quite himself after all this.”

Dr Peter Curtis, a consultant paediatrician at The Vic, said “exactly the right advice” had been given to the family. “Fortunately, this kind of thing happens rarely,” he added.

“But any optician looking into a child’s eyes should be able to spot this kind of problem due to the increase in pressure from spinal fluid behind the eye.”

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