A FORMER Swindon councillor has told of how an eye test led to the discovery that his five-year-old granddaughter had a rare cancer in her left eye.

Tony Foss, who worked for the council and served as a Liberal councillor in the 1980s, got in touch after seeing a story in the Adver last week that revealed just over 30 per cent of children in the south west have never had their eyes tested.

Ten years ago Mr Foss took his granddaughter Ella to Haine & Smith opticians for a check-up, and he was shocked when she was referred to the Great Western Hospital the same day.

After five days waiting to see a specialist the youngster was diagnosed with retinoblastoma, a form of cancer that rapidly develops from the immature cells of a retina, the light-detecting tissue of the eye.

The 74-year-old thinks it is essential that schools encourage parents to take their children to have their eyes checked.

Mr Foss said: “If we didn’t take our granddaughter on the off chance then I would hate to think what would have happened, but it could have been fatal.

“There were no symptoms or recognisable signs that she had the cancer.

“The statistics are shocking. It’s imperative that all children must have eye tests on a regular basis.

“Why would you want to risk this happening to your child when it could so easily be avoided?

“Parents ought to be aware of life-changing things that could effect their kids if their eyes are not regularly tested.”

Ella is now 15 and has a prosthetic left eye, after an operation at the Royal London Hospital.

All she can recall of her ordeal in 2008 was that her left eye could only distinguish a difference between light and dark.

Her granddad says it is imperative for schools to have eye tests for children and is concerned that there is no campaign for this.

According to the NHS children may not realise they have a problem with their vision and if they don’t have routine checks they can go undiagnosed for months or even years.

Eye problems are easier to treat if they are picked up while a youngster’s vision is still developing, up to the age of seven or eight. It also means they have access to special support services.

Children should have eye tests at least every two years.

They are free for under 16s and everyone under 19 who is still in full time education.