Routine eye exam leads to discovery of a lime-sized tumor

Andrea Clarke just wanted new contacts when she came in to see optometrist Dr Mehrdad Saadat of the Tulman Eye Group in Lithia Springs, in October 2020.

For about 3 months, the 45-year-old Douglasville recruiter's vision had been off.

"It was blurry in one eye, in my right eye, all the time, and it was seemingly getting worse," Clarke says.

At the time, it was early in the pandemic, and she was working from home, going to school online, and having headaches.

"I thought it was from stress, working too much, staring at a computer for 16 hours a day," she says.

So Dr. Saadat examined her eyes.

"Going top to bottom, right to left, as you do, I started off the with right eye," Saadat says. "And, I couldn't get her vision corrected in the right eye thoroughly.  

When he looked at Clarke's left eye, it was normal.

"I'm now thinking, what's going on here," Dr. Saadat remember.  "So, I'm thinking, let's run some imaging in the back of the office.  So, we dilate, and take a look at the back of the eye."

That looked normal, but Saadat still could not correct the vision in Clarke's right eye.  

So, he asked her to come back for more in-depth testing.

This time he saw a problem in her left eye, too.

"So, that's a trigger for us to say, 'Okay, now we may have something in the brain tissue,'" he says.

The only way to know what was going on in Clarke's brain was for her to get an MRI.

But, the co-pay was $400.

So, Clarke put it off. 

"Miss Clarke wasn't able to go, October, November," Dr. Saadat says. "She called back, saying she wanted her contact lens prescription filled.  I said, 'I really need that MRI, so that I can finalize everything and make sure nothing else is wrong.'"

February 12, 2021, she finally got the MRI.  

The next day, her phone rang.  

It was Dr. Saadat with the results.

"I will never forget that day," she says.  "He said, I want to take a second, do your want to gather your family?"

She was stunned by what radiologists had found.

"He told me there was a 4.7 centimeter sized tumor on my pituitary gland, roughly the size of a lime," Clarke says.

The lesion was benign, or non-cancerous, but it was pressing against Clarke's optic nerve, blurring her vision.

"The surgeon said this tumor could have been growing for at least 12 years," she says.

Clarke is now about 3 months out from surgery to take the tumor out.

"It is much, much better, my vision is back to normal," she says.  "But, yeah, my vision is much better."

Clarke says she is grateful Dr. Saadat kept on her to get an MRI.

He says he got into medicine to help patients like her.

"To know that I've been able to help one more person in life, puts me at ease and makes me know I've done a good thing in the world," Saadat says.