As part of a medically-savvy family, with mum Kaye an actress in Holby City, dad Jamie a sports scientist/TV presenter, and his father a doctor, the last thing the Darlings expected from a routine eye test for their five-year-old daughter Matilda was a life-changing health scare. Following a school eye test in earlier childhood, Matilda was referred to an optician, needing glasses as a corrective measure to train her eyes.
The optician delivered the news that there appeared to be torturous vessels which can be a sign of raised intracranial pressure behind Matilda’s eyes. She was referred them to the eye hospital immediately.
A CT scan revealed a plum-sized tumour behind Matilda’s left eye, inside her skull. The Darlings chose to have Matilda transferred for swift treatment at Great Ormond Street Hospital, with the eighthour procedure to remove Matilda’s brain tumour taking place within three days of her admission.
As the operation cut through the muscles in Matilda’s neck, her recovery was slow, but the surgeons believe 100% of the tumour was removed, and thankfully Matilda will not need radiotherapy or chemotherapy, as feared, due to the tumour being classified as a grade 1.
The Darling family are keen to use their experience to drive home the importance of child eye tests, as NHS figures reveal a tenyear low in eye test rates for under 16s. Just one in five youngsters take up the free eye test available to them.