A retired Long Melford police officer, who had one eye removed due to cancer, has backed a new campaign which says having your eyes checked could save your life.
The Eye Smart Campaign was launched at Wardale Williams Opticians in Gainsborough Street, Sudbury, on Thursday. It is inspired by two cancer sufferers who were diagnosed after signs of the disease were found in eye tests.
The campaign is seeking to raise money for Clic Sargent, which supports young people with cancer, and OcuMel UK, which helps those affected by ocular melanoma.
Ralph McMurray, 67, who worked for the police for more than 25 years, had his first ever eye test in February 2016, which found he had a detached retina.
Less than three weeks later, he underwent surgery to have one eye removed, after a diagnosis of ocular melanoma, a rare form of cancer.
Mr McMurray, who was told his cancer is incurable and there is a 70 per cent chance it will mutate elsewhere in his body within five years, urged everyone to have their eyes regularly examined, even if they do not think they need it.
“I would have been one of those people,” he said. “You think, ‘eye tests, what do I need that for?’ But the reality is, whatever it may cost to have an eye test, it’s paramount they have it done.
“Having an eye test will save lives. Leave it too long and you will struggle.
“You don’t know if you’re fine. I had no signs. I had nothing at all. But underneath, nobody knows what’s happening.”
The campaign is also backed by the family of Keira Dixon, of Sible Hedingham, who was diagnosed with a brain tumour after an eye test in 2015, when she was just 17, and needed life-saving surgery within five days.
Keira’s mother, Amanda Dixon, said: “We are happy to support the Eye Smart Campaign. We want to do as much as we can to raise awareness of this important issue.”
Her family is supporting Clic Sargent, including her brother Jamie, who ran the London Marathon in 2015.
Meanwhile, OcuMel UK has received more than £1,600 thanks to the efforts of Mr McMurray’s daughters, Krystle and Jade.
Wardale Williams has collected more than £900 so far with sales events, a raffle and in-store collection buckets.
Director Beverley Revell said: “I think people don’t realise that when you come for an eye exam, it’s not just about vision. We can look at signs right at the back of the eye, where they won’t notice any symptoms.”
For more information, please visit www.eyesmartcampaign.co.uk