Brain tumours: a matter of life and death

29 October 2021
Autumn 2021

The Brain Tumour Charity’s Lorcan Butler on detecting serious disease during an eye examination.

As Optical Engagement Manager for the Brain Tumour Charity, Lorcan Butler MCOptom is trying to spread a very simple but vitally important message: optometrists can detect brain tumours and, ultimately, save lives.

“The general public just doesn’t understand that optometrists can detect brain tumours. If people have headaches or an eye problem, first they’ll go to their GP. Then they’ll go to their pharmacist. And only then will they go to an optometrist,” he says. 

The statistics surrounding the issue are significant. Lorcan says that about half of people who go to a GP with suspected brain tumours are misdiagnosed as having something else, such as headaches, depression, anxiety or even hay fever. He adds that around a third have to go back multiple times before they are referred for further investigation at hospital and about 60% of brain tumours are diagnosed at A&E, by which time it tends to be a very late diagnosis and results in a poor prognosis.

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