Our story began when Dane was six months old. I took him to the GP to get his immunisations and checkup. It was all very routine until the doctor said she could see something at the back of his eye and asked another doctor in the practice to come and have a look. Whenever a doctor asks another one to come and give a second opinion alarm bells start going off in my head!
So the other doctor looked in his eye and after much deliberation they decided that they could see a clouding on his lens. The doctor told us that it was most likely a cataract but there was a small possibility it was a tumour. Well, that rocked my world and set me into panic mode. We were told if it was a cataract it was a simple surgery to correct and an artificial lens would replace is clouded lens. If it was a tumour…well, to be honest I decided to pretend I never even heard her say the ‘t’ word. So after harassing one of only two privately practising paediatric ophthalmologists in the city, our doctor got us an appointment for 10 days time. Never a good sign to get to see a specialist surgeon so quickly but for us it was an agonising 10 day wait.
To cut a long and unsatisfying story short, 10 days later the specialist told us that our baby son had a unilateral congenital cataract (so a cataract in one eye that he supposedly had from birth). These are usually picked up and operated on by 6 weeks of age so with Dane now being over 6 months, there was nothing that could be done and he would simply go blind in one eye.
Well, after the shock I went into acceptance and thought, ‘well this is what it is, we’ll just have to make the best of it’. There are plenty of children out there that are far worse off and he still had vision in one eye (although he would statistically be at a greater chance of losing vision in his good eye due to an accident). My husband on the other hand did not take it so well. He refused to accept the diagnosis and set about stalking (in a nice way!) the only other paediatric ophthalmologist in the city to get a second opinion. Thank goodness he did.
This new surgeon saw us on two days’ notice and spent hours with us, going through all the photos of Dane trying to see when the cataract had really started to grow dramatically. He felt that it probably had been there from birth but had only grown large enough to be detrimental to his vision at about 3 or 4 months of age. So he said he would operate if we wanted to but gave us about a 10% chance it would work. Making the decision to go through with the operation was absolutely agonising and the most horrible thing I've ever been through. But we decided to do it.
Fast forward six years, a lot of tears, hard work with patching and putting in contact lenses and we now know that Dane has 6/12 vision in his 'bad' eye (on a good day he’ll get 6/6). This was the absolute best case scenario that we could have hoped for. We are so lucky. Story by Nicola.