A MONMOUTH man says he owes his life to his sharp-eyed optometrist - and she is thanking an equally sharp-eyed colleague who spotted a cancerous mole on her face which could have disfigured her.

Nigel Bean, 47, of Wyesham, was saved from a potentially life-threatening stroke and blindness in one eye after optometrist Helen Tilley realised his vision problems could caused by a much more serious health issue.

And in turn, Ms Tilley, from Llandenny near Usk, says she has to thank colleague Michael Charlton from Fishguard, who told her he thought a mole on her face was a basal cell carcinoma, a form of skin cancer that rarely kills but can scar, and should be removed.

Mr Bean went to Monnow Eyecare after periodically losing some vision in his right eye.

Ms Tilley arranged for him to be fast-tracked to Hereford County Hospital and following a scan, it was discovered Mr Bean had a 90 per cent blockage in his carotid artery which supplies oxygenated blood to the brain.

On September 16, two days after the scan and less than a week after his check-up at the opticians, Mr Bean had an operation to remove the blockage at Worcestershire Royal Hospital.

Now, following a re-scan, he has been given the all-clear.

He said: “My eye is perfect now. I am just so grateful to Helen whose prompt action probably saved my life. The whole system of how I was treated was great.”

Ms Tilley, who has worked at Monnow Eyecare for the past seven years and has owned it for two and a half years, said: “Just from what Nigel was saying, I knew something was wrong.

“It is very important for people to have regular eye tests as they can reveal potential illnesses."

And she added: "Michael and I were on a train together and he told me he thought it was carcinoma. It confirmed my suspicions and I had it removed promptly, so there is unlikely to be any scarring and I am clear of it now."

EDITORIAL COMMENT: A real lifesaver

NIGEL Bean must think himself a very lucky man.

For a trip to the opticians saved his life when the optometrist Helen Tilley noticed a blockage in an artery which could have had horrific consequences had it not been taken care of.

After an operation he has been given the all clear.

It’s a remarkable story with a happy ending.

Ms Tilley is also the subject of her own remarkable story when a colleague spotted the early signs of skin cancer on her face. Luckily it was caught in time and she is making a good recovery.

Mr Bean’s case shows the value of regular eye checks which can reveal up a whole series of potential problems you may not have known about.