High Street optician spots brain condition after doctor misses signs of abnormality

A young mother received life-saving surgery for a brain condition which doctors had failed to spot after it was identified by an optician during a routine eye test.

Katie Burns, 27, became concerned when she started to get headaches that were gradually becoming more frequent and severe.

A visit to her GP only diagnosed a viral infection, but when a friend advised Miss Burns, of Burnley, Lancs, to go for an eye test, things changed quickly.

Miss Burns, who has a six-year-old son, said: “Everything happened so fast. One minute I was having an eye test and the next I was being told that I had a condition so rare that few doctors had ever seen anything like it.

“I now have to see doctors regularly to monitor my condition and have tests, and I may have to have further procedures – but I still feel very lucky.

“I used to think that eye tests were just there to test your vision, but they are an important health check that can pick up on problems that GPs may miss.”

During the eye examination at Specsavers in Burnley, optometrist Faheem Hassan, 27, noticed that Miss Burns’s optic nerve was very swollen.

He explained the seriousness of the problem and immediately referred her to Burnley General Hospital. She went straight from the store to Burnley Hospital where staff could immediately see the seriousness of the condition and sent her in an ambulance to nearby Blackburn Hospital’s Accident and Emergency unit.

Just a few hours later, doctors performed an emergency lumbar puncture procedure to relieve the pressure on Miss Burns’s brain.

Specialists later discovered that the mother had two rare conditions, a narrowing of the veins in her brain, coupled with intracranial hypertension – or high blood pressure on the brain.

Left untreated, the pressure would have blinded her and the veins in her brain may have ruptured, with potentially fatal results.

To ease the pressure inside her brain, doctors fitted her with a stent, a small mesh tube that is used to treat narrow or weak arteries.

Miss Burns said: “I had started to get splitting headaches all the time and they gradually got worse and worse. “I went to the doctor and he said it was probably just a viral infection which would clear up after a while. But two months on, the headaches were just as bad, if not worse. “That was when I went to the optician’s.”

Hassan said: “Normally the optic nerve head appearance is flat, but at the back of Katie’s eyes it was very raised and swollen, looking as though it was being pushed outwards.”


Britons turn out in droves to celebrate their beloved Monarch

On the 60th anniversary of her reign I too say:  “God save the  Queen”!  — JR

The threat of rain didn’t dampen the Jubilee celebrations on the banks of the Thames today, as one million people turned out on the streets of London to enjoy the 1,000-boat Royal flotilla.

Pageant organisers said despite the weather, the huge crowds they had prepared for had turned up to revel in proceedings.

However, the enormous numbers of visitors created chaos on tubes and trains, with packed carriages meaning passengers were unable to board.

Transport for London warned people not to try and watch the flotilla from the already packed viewing platforms. ‘The Diamond Jubilee Pageant viewing areas are now full; please avoid and find an alternative location from which to view the event,’ TfL said.

TfL said that they were ‘coping’ with the hundreds of thousands using transport links close to the river, and that they were running extra trains to cope with demand, but that they had had to divert several bus routes due to the pageant.

Overground train operators also came under fire for apparently failing to lay on extra trains.

Travellers took to Twitter to express their frustration at the services, some saying that travel operators appeared to be laying on a regular Sunday service.

But despite frustration for some revellers, most remained upbeat and determined to catch a glimpse of the spectacle on the Thames.

Among them were friends Sarankumar Chandrasekar, 22, and Suhail Vilangil, 25, who said they were proud to see London’s ‘greatest moment’ after moving to the UK from India two years ago.

Mr Chandrasekar, who now lives in Stratford, east London, said: ‘This is the greatest moment for London so it’s not something you can miss.  ‘It’s a proud moment for us to be here and see the Queen from only 50 metres away.’

Mr Vilangil added: ‘We wouldn’t let a small thing like rain put us off. There are so many people here who have been so friendly.’


This was the Britain we feared we’d lost… in full sail once more

What a fantastic, glorious, emotional, quite overwhelming spectacle. It wasn’t just that it was flawlessly executed. It wasn’t just that, as billed in advance, it would provide a sight that people would never have seen before.

It was also a triumphant restatement and reaffirmation of a Britain that people love so deeply but which so many fear may have been lost for ever.

Well, here it was still, in all its touching magnificence.  Once again, the monarchy allowed people to connect through powerful symbolism to their collective history and their identity as a nation. And what a stroke of genius it was to use the river to make that visceral connection.

An estimated one million people packed onto the banks of the Thames to cheer the Queen as the pageant of some 1,000 boats proceeded in perfect formation past the great landmarks of the city.

The monarch being rowed in pomp and grandeur up the river is an image which goes straight back to the Middle Ages.  The Thames, etched into England’s consciousness with engravings, drawings and paintings showing its central role in the life of the nation, was historically used for coronations, processions and pageants of great splendour.

Yesterday’s pageant was not just magnificent but deliberately conjured up images which connected the Queen to sources of pride for both the monarchy and the nation, as well as to the Queen’s own history.

The grand row-barge that led the procession was called Gloriana, the name given to the first great Queen Elizabeth who presided over a triumphant period in English history.

The barge which carried the present Queen was called the Spirit of Chartwell, conjuring up the home of Winston Churchill, the Prime Minister who saved Britain from tyranny and who welcomed back the new Queen from Kenya after the death of her father, King George Vl — and whose own body after his death was borne in state on the very same river.

The bells of the churches lining the route of the pageant rang out as the Queen passed by, just as they had done in medieval times — and also when World War II, in which the then Princess Elizabeth had played her own role in defending the nation, came to an end.

Putting this pageant onto river boats touched yet further deep and emotional chords. The great artery of the Thames is a symbol of the now too-often overlooked fact that this island kingdom was always a maritime nation.

How poignant and moving, therefore, to see the vast flotilla of row-boats, with their oars dipping and their flags from the Commonwealth fluttering, passing the Queen’s barge as the bells started to peal.

This beautiful and majestic river, so dearly loved by so many, was now transformed into an exquisite spectacle.

Behind the royal barge, the 50-strong contingent of ‘little ships’ which had helped defend the nation in its darkest hour at Dunkirk were, in addition, a powerful reminder of the period when the very best of the British character had been on such epic display.

And so was it not incidentally rather sad — if not emphasised in an intentionally pointed gesture — that the Royal Yacht Britannia, which the Queen loved so much and whose launch yesterday conveyed her to the Spirit of Chartwell with yachtsmen from Britannia standing to attention on board, was so cavalierly decommissioned?

For Britannia was not some kind of extravagance, as was so vulgarly assumed in philistine political circles.

It was a symbol of Britain’s maritime identity, which helped cement that identity through such symbolism — like the monarchy itself.

That’s why yesterday’s pageant was far more than just a tremendous spectacle. It’s why this whole four-day Jubilee celebration is more than just an excuse for an enormous national party. It’s why it’s more even than just a celebration of having achieved six decades on the throne.

Its real value lies in the wonderful transformative effect upon the nation of the monarchy itself, which through such events brings out once again the best in people. It does so by bringing the nation together in what unites rather than divides. As people said yesterday over and over again, it’s the coming together that’s so joyous. They suddenly find that they all have something that they share and want to celebrate together.

As a result, the nation’s distinctive identity reasserts itself in all its idiosyncrasy.

How very British, after all, that the whole thing was carried off with such aplomb yesterday in the pouring rain, with the stoical British — in their macs, cagoules and even camping out overnight under their umbrellas — refusing to allow the weather to dampen their enjoyment and determination to celebrate.

And what they are celebrating, they say, is their Queen and their country. For through such an opportunity to express their pride in their monarch, they are able to express their pride in their country.

And how! Everywhere you look there’s red, white and blue bunting, red white and blue balloons — and, of course, everywhere the Union flag.

If the emotional resonance of the spectacle tightened the throat yesterday, it was surely this unaffected pride of the people in their Queen and their straightforward but no less deep love of their country that really brought tears to the eye.

This is because there is such an enormous, latent, pent-up feeling of patriotism — that most decent and inspiring of emotions which, in our degraded public discourse, has now become all but forbidden to express for fear of  being damned as a racist  or xenophobe.

Patriotism is thus sneered at by the kind of people who unfortunately tend to dominate our culture and who lose no opportunity to be sour and mean-spirited about the monarchy and the people it so invaluably serves.

The fact is, however, that the monarchy is immensely popular. Having been through an extremely rough patch in the days after Princess Diana’s death, it is now supported by some 80 per cent of the people.

Indeed, the Queen is far more popular than any elected politician. A recent poll suggests that four times as many think she is more concerned than politicians about their own problems and three times as many believe she is more in touch with ordinary folk.

This is really quite astonishing, since she is the grandest person in the country — and, in addition, says virtually nothing in public, with her views remaining a mystery.

Yet the reason is surely obvious. Through a number of ways — such as her Christmas broadcasts, and what she says and does on her numerous walkabouts and at her garden parties and the like — she shows over and over again how deeply she feels for and cares for the people.

Politicians don’t care for the people. They merely want something from them — their vote. The Queen wants nothing from anyone. Her life really is devoted to serving the public.

In addition, people feel that the Queen is grounded. She is a country woman, rooted in the unchanging landscape of Britain and its natural rhythms.  Look at what she wears — practical clothes that never change. She demonstrably does not, and would never, bow to fashion.

She is therefore utterly, totally, eternally reliable.  She embodies authenticity  in an age of charlatanry and spin. Which all goes to show how all the talk of ‘toffs’ being out of touch is so very wide of the mark.

The deeper reason people love her — and they do love her — is that she represents a steadfast point in a tumultuously changing, often disturbing or terrifying  world. People feel that so  much of Britain’s identity and culture is being lost or trampled underfoot.

For example, the country seems to have lost to Europe much of its ability to govern itself. Its economic outlook is dire. It appears to be steadily destroying its ability to defend itself by military means. The fundamentals of education, faith and family have splintered. It no longer seems to know what its role in the world should be.

The Queen stands above all of that. She embodies characteristics that never change and that the people deeply admire.  She stands for steadfast Christian belief, duty and self-discipline. And as the embodiment of the nation, she reflects these virtues back to the nation and makes it feel better about itself.

In an era of deepening flux and chaos, to have such a ‘rock in a stormy sea’ becomes ever more important to people.  So the notion that in an inexorably changing society the monarchy becomes evermore irrelevant is the exact opposite of the truth.

The popularity of the monarchy is thus very largely centred on the personality on the Queen herself. She is simply a royal superstar.

Listen to those who have occasion to speak to her on a regular basis — Prime Ministers, the Archbishop of Canterbury — and you hear them all testify to her remarkable wisdom, keen observation and kindness.

The people see other virtues in her with which they closely identify. She is stoical, she never makes a fuss, but just gets on with it.  That’s the spirit of Britain: just getting on with it.

Through her iron sense of duty and service, she is also selfless. The nation feels loved and supported by someone who so demonstrably cares for it. This is an unconditional commitment. Unlike politicians, the Queen has never, would never, let her people down.

This is why elected presidents simply can’t compete with a constitutional monarch.  The first duty of the embodiment of a nation is to unite that nation. Anyone who is elected is necessarily partisan and divides a nation.

Of course, the popularity of the monarchy can never be taken for granted. Prince Charles and Prince William, if they ascend to the throne, will themselves have to work hard to maintain it.

People often say — only half whimsically — that they hope the Queen will never die. While she is on the throne, they feel safe. After that, they fear, the Britain they know and cherish really will disappear.

The Queen is a person of cast-iron faith — not just religious faith, but faith in her people and her country. She therefore stands for hope in the future.

It is perhaps that characteristic most of all that not just her heirs but all who aspire to rule us should learn from her majestic example.


Private Muslim schools told to promote British values

Private Islamic schools face being required to promote “British values” as part of a new Government drive to combat extremism, it emerged today.

For the first time, they will be forced to meet new rules introduced to ensure schools respect the criminal and civil law, present political issues in a balanced way and promote tolerance of other faiths.

The change – applying to all independent schools in England – comes amid concerns that the curriculum in some schools may encourage the development of radical beliefs.

In a report, the Department for Education said reports from a range of sources suggest that “extremism may be more of a problem within some independent schools rather than state-funded schools”.

Although the duty applies to all fee-paying schools, particular concerns have been raised in the past over more than 100 private Muslim schools.

A report by the think-tank Civitas in 2009 found anti-Western views promoted on some school webites. A separate study by Ofsted, the education watchdog, revealed that one-in-five independent faith schools were failing to teach children about other religions.

The DfE is now proposing changes to official regulations for independent schools in England that toughen up requirements surrounding the spiritual, moral, social and cultural development of pupils.

A consultation document into the plans suggests that schools should “enable pupils to distinguish right from wrong and to respect the civil and criminal law”, while providing children with a “broad general knowledge of public institutions and services in England”.

Schools will also be expected to “preclude the promotion of partisan political views” and ensure that children “respect fundamental British values including democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty and mutual respect, and tolerance of those with different faiths and beliefs”.

The new regulations represent a tightening of existing rules, which merely require independent schools to respect “the law”, encourage pupils to contribute towards community life and tolerate different cultures. It will be used by Ofsted and other official watchdogs during inspections of independent schools.

The report – which is open to consultation until Tuesday – said the changes would “help ensure that extremism, intolerance and teaching that undermines democracy and the rule of law are challenged within independent schools”.

“Inspectorates will in future be better able to identify and report on extremism if these changes are made,” it added.

A Department for Education spokeswoman said: “We are consulting on whether we need to add additional requirements for independent schools to bring them into line with maintained schools.

“These requirements include the promoting of fundamental British values, respecting the civil and criminal law and presenting political issues in a balanced way.”


Drinking four or more cups of tea can lower the risk of middle-aged related diabetes

How brainless can you get?  Is tea drinking the only way in which Britons differ from other populations?

The British habit of tea-drinking can help lower the risk of Type 2 diabetes – but only if you drink four or more cups a day. A study of European populations found that countries that drank four cups a day – the British average – had a 20% lower risk of developing the illness.  Tea drinking ranged from an average of none a day in Spain to four a day in the UK.

The study found that benefits seemed to be most obvious among heavy tea drinkers – drinking a mere one to three cups a day doesn’t lower the risk.

A research team led by Christian Herder from the Leibniz Center for Diabetes Research at Heinrich Heine University Duesseldorf, Germany, said previous analyses showed tea consumption was associated with lower incidence of type 2 diabetes.

‘Obesity is a major risk factor for the development of type 2 diabetes, but dietary factors may also play a role. One dietary factor of interest is tea consumption.

‘Tea consumption may lower the risk of type 2 diabetes by influencing glucose digestion, glucose uptake, and by protecting beta-cells from free-radical damage. This beneficial effect may be due to the polyphenols present in tea.’

But it was unclear if tea is associated inversely over the entire range of intake.  He wrote ‘Therefore, we investigated the association between tea consumption and incidence of type 2 diabetes in a European population.’

It was done in 26 centres in eight European countries, and consisted of 12,403 incident type 2 diabetes cases plus thousands of others without the disease.

Tea drinking ranged from an average of none a day in Spain to four a day in the UK.

Herder wrote: ‘Increasing our understanding of modifiable lifestyle factors associated with the development of type 2 diabetes is important, as the prevalence of diabetes is increasing rapidly.

‘In line with this, no association was observed when tea consumption was studied as continuous variable. This may indicate that the protective effect of tea is restricted to people with a high tea consumption.


Is this the end of British wind farms? Finance Minister demands Government subsidies are slashed by a quarter

George Osborne is demanding huge cuts in government aid for wind farms – a step which could kill plans for the construction of hundreds of turbines across the country. The Chancellor has told the Treasury to draw up plans for a reduction of 25 per cent in subsidies for onshore wind farms.

The intervention will provoke widespread anger among his Lib Dem coalition partners, who strongly support plans to put up hundreds of turbines in the countryside.

Environmental groups say the cut in subsidy would put an end to the development of further wind power sites – an outcome that would be welcomed by thousands of campaigners who are opposing plans for turbines near their homes.

Only last week the campaigners scored a major victory when a High Court judge ruled that the right of villagers in Norfolk to preserve their landscape was more important than the Government’s energy targets.

Last night Tory backbenchers supported Mr Osborne’s determination to slash the amount spent on renewable energy by the Government at a time of austerity.

Douglas Carswell said: ‘Why has it taken so long? A centre-right government should be bringing an end to this. One of the reasons that the economy is not growing is because energy costs are so ridiculously high because of this wind farm scam which is adding hidden surcharges to our bills.’

In February more than 100 Conservative MPs wrote to the Prime Minister to demand cuts to the £400million a year public support for wind farms, which they say is evidence of too much Lib Dem influence over policy.

Mr Osborne’s position puts him at odds with Lib Dem energy secretary Ed Davey – a key supporter of renewable energy.

It could also cause friction with his boss David Cameron, who promised to lead the ‘greenest government ever’ after the election.

But his intervention could restore his popularity among Tory MPs such as Chris Heaton-Harris, who has led the charge against the subsidies. Many are angry at a series of U-turns on Budget measures in recent weeks.

Juliet Davenport, of renewable electricity supplier Good Energy, said the Chancellor was giving in to Tory backbenchers who do not want turbines built in their constituencies.


‘Bigger. Fatter. Gypsier’ advertising campaign used by British TV Channel for its wedding series to be investigated for ‘racism’

We read:

“The Advertising Standards Authority is to formally investigate Channel 4’s advertising for Big Fat Gypsy Weddings, after the Irish Traveller community successfully appealed the regulator’s original decision.

Adverts used to promote the show have been criticised for using the words: ‘Bigger. Fatter. Gypsier’ in large letters across images of travellers, including one of young children.

The London Travellers’ Unit and two members of the London Assembly have likened the word ‘gypsier’ to other terms deemed racist and abusive.

In March the ASA dismissed more than 370 complaints against the campaign, but decided that an investigation was unnecessary as Channel 4’s TV and billboard ads were not likely to cause widespread offence.

But now the ASA has made an embarrassing climb down and admitted its decision not to review the complaints was ‘flawed.’

The green light for the investigation to commence was given after a meeting between Lord Smith and independent reviewer Sir Hayden Phillips, a former senior civil servant.

The decision to investigate the series ,which has pulled in up to 8 million viewers, is damaging to the show’s sponsor Honda and the car company admitted some viewers had rang them directly to lodge a complaint.


If Gypsies think it is racism to call someone a Gypsy, that doesn’t say much for their self-esteem, does it. Do they themselves think being a Gypsy is discreditable? If so, why criticize others who appear to think likewise?


About jonjayray

I am former member of the Australia-Soviet Friendship Society, former anarcho-capitalist and former member of the British Conservative party. The kneejerk response of the Green/Left to people who challenge them is to say that the challenger is in the pay of "Big Oil", "Big Business", "Big Pharma", "Exxon-Mobil", "The Pioneer Fund" or some other entity that they see, in their childish way, as a boogeyman. So I think it might be useful for me to point out that I have NEVER received one cent from anybody by way of support for what I write. As a retired person, I live entirely on my own investments. I do not work for anybody and I am not beholden to anybody
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One Response to

  1. John A says:

    “If Gypsies think it is racism to call someone a Gypsy, that doesn’t say much for their self-esteem, does it.”

    Sorry, but it IS a derogatory term. Whether the lifestyle practicioners known as “Travellers” and the “Rom” deserve, as a class, to be derogated is another question.

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