Judith Borland – Store Director Specsavers Ópticas Fuengirola

Fuengirola Business Spotlight – Getting to know business leaders in our community

Judith Borland, is the Director of Specsavers Ópticas in Fuengirola, the first Specsavers’s store to open on the Costa del Sol in 2007.

Judith studied optometry at university, before becoming an optometrist and manager for a major optical chain in Scotland. This role lasted for six years, offering Judith the chance to become a confident clinician and learn important management skills. When she had a child, she changed role to a part time position to achieve a good work-life balance which continued her career while giving her time to be a mother.

Judith was offered the opportunity to start her own business with her husband, becoming Store Directors of their own Specsavers franchise in Hamilton in Scotland, which they ran successfully for ten years, before being offered the chance of bringing Specsavers to Southern Spain in 2007.

Since 2007 Judith and her husband Amrik have been growing their team and becoming established in the Fuengirola community as experienced and highly qualified professionals who are committed to caring for the visual needs of residents and visitors to Fuengirola. The optical team includes 4 optometrists, between them they speak 6 languages – Spanish, English, French, Finnish, Arabic and German, so they can offer Fuengirola’s international community the best possible optical care in their own language.

In 2017 Judith was diagnosed with Stage 2 Breast Cancer, following treatment she is now living cancer free, but has been sharing her story and offering support and advice for sufferers on how to care for their eyes.

Judith explains that chemotherapy and surgically or medically induced early menopause, common with breast cancer patients, can affect the eyes. As can the medication tamoxifen, which is given to reduce the recurrence of the cancer. ‘As sufferers of breast cancer will know, treatment often puts you into menopause. I was suffering from oestrogen positive cancer, therefore wasn’t allowed to use HRT to manage the symptoms, so I had to look for other ways to cope with them’ she says. ‘One of the symptoms of the menopause and also a side effect of the chemotherapy is dry eyes. You may feel like you have something in your eyes, or that your eyes feel gritty. A side effect of dry eyes can also be excessive tearing or watering, but this doesn’t give you relief, as you’re lacking an important chemical needed to lubricate the eyes.

‘To deal with this problem, I used artificial tears or eye drops throughout my treatment and it made my eyes feel much better. I found the overnight artificial tears particularly helpful, but there are many options out there, so ask your optician or chemist what they recommend for your particular case.’

Judith says another side effect of chemotherapy is losing your hair and many lose their eyebrows and eyelashes as well. ‘We have eyebrows and eyelashes to protect our eyes from the sun and also to block dust and particles in the air from getting into our eyes,’ she says. ‘When you lose these, you are at higher risk of getting things in your eyes which can cause infections and because your immune system is low, you will be less able to fight them. I had conjunctivitis several times during my treatment, but by using eye drops to ensure my eyes stayed lubricated and flushed out any particles, as well as taking antibiotics, I was able to stay on top of it.’ Judith says the medication tamoxifen – which helps to reduce the recurrence of cancer – can have an impact on your vision. Studies suggest that it also increases your chance of developing cataracts.

Judith says that if anyone has concerns with their eyesight or notices any subtle changes, they should seek advice from their optician. ‘Although there’s not a lot you can do to stop cataracts developing, there is a link between exposure to UV light and a higher incidence of cataracts, so I recommend being very vigilant with wearing sunglasses all year round while you’re on tamoxifen,’ she says. ‘Chemotherapy makes us more sensitive to UV and so during and after treatment you should protect your eyes and skin against its effects. I wear polarised sunglasses or reactions lenses which change in the sunlight all year round to protect my eyes.’ Judith says that cataracts can be treated with a short and straightforward surgery and that it does not cause lasting damage to your vision. ‘Ask your optician about how to deal with any side effects you are experiencing which are causing you vision problems or discomfort. We are here to help you to minimise these problems as much as possible,’ she says.

Specsavers Ópticas Fuengirola is located on Avenida Ramon y Cajal 6, near to the bus station. It is open daily from 10.00-19:30 Monday to Friday and 10.00-14:00 on Saturday, the store is closed on Sunday.

For more information on the optical services available, check out https://en.specsavers.es/stores/fuengirola or call 952 467 837.