While nursing 3-day-old Christina, Grace felt a strange premonition that prompted her to gaze intently into her daughter’s eyes. Grace put on her glasses to get a closer look and saw the little white spots on both eyes—spots that indicated her daughter had cataracts.
Fortunately for Christina, she was able to get immediate treatment at Nicklaus Children's Hospital, formerly Miami Children's Hospital, and undergo operations that saved her sight. Now 6 years old, she has perfect vision with glasses, is involved in her school’s gifted program and—according to Grace—is on her way to becoming a rock star.
A Discouraging Diagnosis
Though Grace had cataracts when she was an infant, throughout her life, medical professionals had told her that her condition wasn’t genetic. “No one else in my family had cataracts,” she says, “so I wasn’t expecting any of my children to have the condition. But the second I looked in Christina’s eyes, I knew she had cataracts.”
Christina’s ophthalmologist, Cleve Howard, MD, Director of the Division of Ophthalmology at Nicklaus Children's Hospital, formerly Miami Children's Hospital, confirmed what Grace saw.
“It was the longest, most horrible day of my life,” Grace remembers. “I didn’t want Christina to have the same visual problems that I have, but Dr. Howard kept reminding me that technology has improved.”
A Hopeful Prognosis
Christina underwent an operation on one eye when she was 6 days old and the other eye at 2 weeks old. “There are approximately 2,000 babies born with cataracts each year in the United States,” says Dr. Howard. “Immediate treatment is necessary because infants with cataracts have a poor visual outcome if their eyes are not corrected by 30 to 40 days of age.”
Grace, born with the same condition as Christina, had to wait until she was 6 months old to have the surgery to correct her vision. But changes in technology meant a hopeful prognosis for Christina.
“I’m so grateful to Dr. Howard and Nicklaus Children's Hospital, formerly Miami Children's Hospital,” says Grace. “Dr. Howard was able to operate within one week. He checked her eyes every 15 days and changed glasses to meet her needs—he’s an amazing man. He saved my child’s sight!”
A Vision for the Future
Because of early detection and advanced technology, Christina’s future looks bright—and clear. The next step for the lively first grader is contact lenses.
“I encourage all parents to check their children’s vision immediately. Eyes are just as crucial as the heart, the brain and the ears,” says Grace. “Your children’s vision is so important, and testing takes only one visit to the ophthalmologist.”
For parents with a family history of cataracts, Dr. Howard recommends having children evaluated for red reflex even before leaving the hospital.
“There is so much we can do to improve your child’s vision,” he says. “Christina is a great example of how immediate treatment can make all the difference in the way your child sees the world.”