A grandad from Carnforth needed urgent treatment after his three-year-old grandson accidentally shot him in the eye with a toy gun.
Ian Nicholls, 61, said he was incredibly lucky after the toddler fired his small Nerf Gun at point blank range into his right eye.
The lorry driver feared he would be unable to work if his sight was badly affected.
He said: “We had popped to my daughter’s house to see the grandchildren as it had been their birthdays, and my grandson Teddy was so excited to show me his birthday presents – he had a little Nerf Gun and we were playing a game with it and it went off from about a foot away and hit me in the eyeball.
“I am an HGV driver so I was worried about my job.”
Mr Nicholls, who works for Border Aggregates in Carnforth, said he was grateful for the immediate treatment he received from Philip Jones Opticians in Carnforth.
He was suffering from pain and light sensitivity the day after ther incident.
He was referred to the opticians via the Minor Eye Conditions Service (MECS), a scheme designed to reduce hospital referrals and save GPs’ time by using the expertise of optometrists through a network of 25 local optical practices.
The practice was able to examine Mr Nicholls on the same day and optometrist Philip Jones diagnosed traumatic uveitis (inflammation of the front portion of the eye).
Traumatic uveitis is a potentially sight threatening condition with serious complications and it is vital that it is treated quickly.
Mr Nicholls was given steroid treatment and medication for the condition.
“I went to work the next day but it was really painful so I spoke to my GP and they referred me to the opticians,” he said.
“They were brilliant with the treatment. It all healed up and you wouldn’t know there had been anything wrong with it now.
“It could have been a lot worse but I can laugh about it now. It was a bit of a shock and a bit frightening – it was a foam ball with a rubber tip, it’s surprising the power they have and it just shows how quickly your life could change.
“Teddy is only allowed a water pistol now so he can’t do any more damage!”
Mr Jones is the first optometrist in the Morecambe Bay area to qualify as an independent prescriber. This means that he can prescribe prescription-only medication for eye conditions and was able to start treating Mr Nicholls straight away, removing the need for a hospital visit.
“This patient was an ideal candidate to benefit from our Minor Eye Conditions Service and we were delighted to be able to offer prompt, appropriate care to ensure treatment was as successful as possible,” said Mr Jones.
“We hope that this highlights the key role the Minor Eye Conditions Service plays in local eye care and that more people will be aware of its availability should they ever need it.”
The Minor Eye Conditions Service has been running in the Morecambe Bay area since September 2016 and is designed for recently occurring medical eye conditions such as red eyes, mild trauma, suspected foreign body in the eye or mild eye pain/discomfort.
Out of 4,800 patient episodes using MECS in the last year, 74 per cent said that they would otherwise have gone to their GP and 14 per cent would have presented at A&E.
Furthermore, 77 per cent of those patients were managed exclusively within the service without the need to go on to primary or secondary care.