AN Ilminster nurse is appealing to people to not ignore their routines eye tests after one saved her life.

Jane Turland had not been experiencing any symptoms, but was diagnosed with a potentially life-threatening condition following a check-up.

Now the 54-year-old nurse is urging people to get their eyes tested during National Eye Health Week (September 18-24) in order to catch symptoms early.

Mrs Turland went to Vision Express, Taunton, to get an eye test before jetting off to Mexico to celebrate her 50th birthday. Unfortunately her holiday was put on hold after she was taken to Musgrove Park Hospital under an emergency referral.

The optometrist said he was concerned I might have a partially detached retina,” she said.

“I found out later that he actually suspected it was an ocular melanoma, but he didn't want to worry me too much at first."

As it was a Saturday, a registrar at the hospital opened the on-site eye clinic for a thorough examination of Jane's right eye and, within two weeks - with the ocular melanoma diagnosis confirmed - she was admitted to St Paul’s Eye Unit at The Royal Liverpool University Hospital.

Jane was treated with plaque radiotherapy, which involved having a saucer-shaped applicator sewn behind her eye for seven days.

Mrs Turland said: "It really was a frightening time.

"I'd gone from picking up my holiday currency to being radioactive in just two weeks.

"I was allowed to receive visitors but, for safety reasons, they had to sit at the far end of my hospital bed because of the radiation risk."

Ocular melanoma is a malignant tumour that can grow and spread to other parts of the body - usually the liver. This can occur in around 50 per cent of sufferers within five years and is often fatal.

Luckily, Jane's tumour was treated in time and tests show she has a low risk of any further spread.

She now has six-monthly check ups with her oncologist in Liverpool and continues to have her annual eye tests at Vision Express in Taunton.

Taunton Vision Express store partner, Deirdre Finn, said: “Stories like Jane’s really do prove just how important it is to have a regular eye test. Most people think an eye test is only necessary for determining whether they need glasses or lenses. However, it can detect many other health conditions, including diabetes and stroke, as well as sight issues such as cataracts and glaucoma. We’re so pleased Jane’s treatment was a success and we wish her continued health.”

During National Eye Health Week Vision Express is urging the public to take sight seriously and is offering free eye tests with an online voucher available for download until 30 September at It allows for a free eye test to be redeemed until October 31.

Mrs Turland added: "I can't thank Vision Express enough.

"The optometrist who first spotted there was a problem was so kind and reassuring and really took the time to make me feel at ease - even though it was clear something was very wrong.

"I'm convinced the early diagnosis saved my eye, if not my life."