Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Emily's Eye Condition - Blindness unless treated

When Emily was 5 months old, our pediatrician noted that her eyes appeared slightly cross eyed - her right eye turned inwards in what is known as esotropia.

Now this was nothing in itself, this condition is seen in many children but it is a warning flag for a doctor to make further examinations and this is exactly what happened - we were referred to Dr Bell, the senior opthamologist at the county hospital in Essex UK.

After several weeks of testing, examinations and consultation by a team of medical eye specialists the diagnosis was produced when Emily was 6 months old. The news shocked both Sheila and myself - Emily was severely vision impaired in her right eye and in all likelihood was blind but we couldn't be sure as she was so young. The good news was that we had caught the condition very early and the prognosis for recovery was good.

I carried Emily out of the hospital in her carry chair with one hand, and her mother, Sheila, with the other - both of us were in tears.

Emily was diagnosed with an "amblyopia" as the cause of her vision problems and we embarked on a regimen of "patching therapy" to treat Emily's blind eye which entailed weekly visits to Broomfield Hospital where Emily was treated by the team of eye specialists tasked with her care - these included Dr McCabe, Dr Jackson, Dr Omi and Dr Bell among others.

Surgery was considered to correct the alignment of her eye but this in itself will do nothing for her poor vision - left to itself the eye will not improve and it will degenerate until Emily is blind in the eye completely.

We treated Emily for 5 months in England until Sheila took Emily to the United States in February 2003. As soon as Emily was in the US, Sheila claimed that the eye problem was "no big deal" it was just a lazy eye and nothing serious was wrong. At other times Sheila has claimed she was getting Emily medical treatment, that Emily had been cured and that she had no money for medical treatment.

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