A 63-YEAR-old grandfather had his life saved ... by a routine trip to the optician.

A 63-YEAR-old grandfather had his life saved ... by a routine trip to the optician.

Robert Bown said that, without the diligence and quick thinking of St Neots optometrist Sayeed Qazi, he would not be alive today.

Mr Qazi, a consultant at Specsavers in the High Street, detected an abnormality at the back of Mr Bown's eyes during a check-up.

Examinations at Hinchingbrooke Hospital in Huntingdon revealed a brain tumour that needed an urgent operation.

"I'd been putting off having my eyes tested for a couple of years," Mr Bown, of Spencer Close, Potton, told The Hunts Post.

"But after receiving several reminder letters from Specsavers I finally decided to go for my free eye test ... I certainly won't put off going ever again."

The tumour was detected in October during a routine test for the over-40s that allows high-tech equipment to examine the interior surface of the eye, known as the fundus.

"If they hadn't carried out this extra test we wouldn't be having this conversation," Mr Bown said. "Mr Qazi saved my life."

Mr Qazi said: "After discovering the abnormality I repeated the test to make sure there wasn't an error.

"This type of test detects the integrity of a person's neural pathway - for example whether they've had strokes or mini-strokes, and it also detects tumours and pituitary aneurysms.

"As soon as I realised there was an abnormality I sent him for a same-day referral to Hinchingbrooke."

Mr Bown underwent further tests and a brain scan.

"Just over two weeks later I phoned up for the results - and that's when my life changed," he said. "When I heard the word 'tumour' I just broke down - I was a grown man crying.

"The worst part was that they said they didn't have the expertise to determine whether the tumour was operable or cancerous and that's when they referred me to Addenbrooke's Hospital."

Over the following two days Mr Bown broke the news to his family. He was given an appointment with an Addenbrooke's consultant who, after telling him the tumour was almost certainly going to be aggressive, gave him three choices.

"He told me I could forego the operation altogether, they could drill into my skull and do a biopsy, or I could opt for the operation - which I decided to do," he said.

The operation on March 23 determined that, although the tumour was cancerous, it was non-aggressive and surgeons were able to remove it, as well as the cancerous cells surrounding it.

Following a long convalescence at home surrounded by his family, Mr Bown has one more scan in December before being given the all-clear by doctors, and has big plans for the rest of his life.

"Our family was planning to go to Florida around about now to celebrate Susan's and my 40th wedding anniversary.

"That obviously had to be put on hold, but we have a chalet in Norfolk that we're going to spend some time in and, hopefully, in the future can get to the US.

"My main goal, after my scan in December, is trying to get my driving licence back again, which is what I want most.

"I'd feel like I had my independence back."