A County Durham youngster is back on the mend after a crucial brain operation thanks to an optician who spotted a "life or death" fluid build up.

Nine-year-old Frankie Crow, from Browney, near Durham, was referred to hospital in February following a routine eye test from newly-qualified Specsavers Durham optometrist Williams Okezie.

Mr Okezie noticed something unusual when he examined images of Frankie’s optic nerve and sent him to hospital for further investigation.

An MRI scan and ultrasound at Darlington Memorial Hospital later revealed there was too much fluid around his brain and Frankie was blue-lighted to the Great North Children’s Hospital at the Royal Victoria Infirmary in Newcastle for examination.The Northern Echo: Williams tests Frankie's eyesWilliams tests Frankie's eyes (Image: Contributor)

Neurosurgeons discovered young Frankie had papilledema (the swelling of the optic discs) and needed an endoscopic ventriculostomy, where a section of his skull was removed, and a needle inserted to drain the excess fluid from around the brain.

After a 9am surgery, football-mad Frankie was up eating his favourite lunch, chicken nuggets, and by 1.30pm he was greeted by his relieved and thankful family.

Specsavers Durham ophthalmic director Gavin Donnelly said: "Nine times out of ten these signs appearing in an eye test may be nothing to worry about, but in rarer cases it can be extremely dangerous so it’s important that precautionary checks are carried out – as Frankie’s story demonstrates.

"Williams’ quick thinking and action is a credit to the store. Since qualifying he has demonstrated incredible skill and is a true asset to our team.The Northern Echo: Liam Crow, Frankie Crow and Specsavers optometrist Williams OkezieLiam Crow, Frankie Crow and Specsavers optometrist Williams Okezie (Image: Contributor)

"We are all so glad to hear Frankie is on the mend after what was no doubt a huge scare for him and his family. The importance of getting regular eye tests cannot be overstated. In rare instances they really can be the difference between life and death."

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Frankie’s dad Liam said: "Without Mr Okezie’s referral, this diagnosis would have gone unnoticed for a number of months, or even years, and I dread to think what could have happened.

"I am eternally grateful for his swift response and actions which mean we now have Frankie back, fighting fit and healthy.

"We’ll be back for regular eye tests and would encourage everyone to do the same and make sure they take time to see their optician."