Toddler who survived rare eye cancer unveils new vision for Sidmouth opticians

Store manager Nicola Harris (left) in the revamped Sidmouth Vision Express store with Rose Elhiti an

Store manager Nicola Harris (left) in the revamped Sidmouth Vision Express store with Rose Elhiti and her mum, Suzannah. - Credit: Archant

Rose, two, is helping to raise awareness on behalf of the Childhood Eye Cancer Trust (CHECT)

A two-year-old who survived a rare form of eye cancer was guest of honour as she unveiled a new vision for a Sidmouth opticians.

Rose Elhiti, from Exeter, officially cut the ribbon of the renovated Vision Express premises in Old Fore Street today (Thursday) along with her mum, Suzannah.

As an ambassador for the Childhood Eye Cancer Trust (CHECT), the toddler also helped to raise awareness of the importance of regular check-ups and a rare condition called retinoblastoma - also known as Rb.

At just six months old, Rose was diagnosed with Rb after her parents spotted a white glow in her eye and took her to a GP. She eventually underwent chemotherapy treatment and still has regular hospital check-ups.

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CHECT is the nominated charity for Vision Express and store manager, Nicola Harris, said Rose’s visit helped raise awareness of the importance of regular eye tests, and crucially, of retinoblastoma.

She said: “It was a privilege to have Rose join us today to declare our newly refurbished store open. We’ve been in Old Fore Street as Vision Express for nine years and it’s fantastic to have upgraded facilities so we can continue to offer local residents a thorough and individual vision care service.”

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Rose and Suzannah were welcomed by the Sidmouth team, which has over 65 years of combined optical experience.

CHECT says around 50 to 60 cases of Rb are diagnosed each year and while 90 per cent of those diagnosed will survive, they may face having an eye removed.

Vision Express has enjoyed an award-winning partnership CHECT since 2010, using initiatives to raise awareness and drive donations for the charity, so they can help more families affected.

It was the first optician in the UK to roll out a protocol to ensure a quick and effective referral if retinoblastoma is suspected.

Employees and customers of Vision Express have raised around £300,000 since the partnership was forged and will add to the tally with a 200-mile cycle fundraiser in September, called ‘Ride4Sight’.

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