This is Caleb. When he was 11 weeks old, I set him in his bouncer and took several photographs of him. The next day I opened up the photos on my computer and noticed a grey spot on his right eye. Several months earlier I had seen a Today show segment about retinoblastoma and how it could be seen in photographs. I was frightened and called Caleb’s pediatrician. They gave me an appointment for late in the afternoon and told me to bring the photos. It was a long day of waiting and searching frantically for photo paper. When the doctor saw Caleb she assured us that his retina looked fine and he did not have retinoblastoma, but he did need to be seen by a pediatric ophthalmologist. With her help, I was able to get him an appointment for the next week. Caleb was diagnosed with a unilateral cataract and we tried patching for a week to see if his vision would develop without surgery. The following week he had made no improvement, so he was scheduled for surgery. Another child’s surgery was moved back in order to accommodate Caleb as soon as possible. Only three weeks went by from the day I took Caleb’s photograph to the day he had surgery.
The day of surgery came. He was tiny in the hospital pajamas that were far too large. The surgery went smoothly and we took him home just a few hours after it was over. We then went through a month of eye drops and then had him fitted for his contact lens. He began wearing the lens and patch at four months. At first I bought his patches at the local store and drew fun things on them with a Sharpie. They were so large I had to cut them down a bit.
The next couple of years were quite stressful. Although Caleb’s vision developed nicely, having an infant in a contact lens is an extreme challenge. At first, just placing the lens in his eye every morning was a two person job. His Dad would hold his eye open, while I popped in the lens. When Caleb started to become mobile, I had to put him in the super yard or pack ‘n play to keep him safe when I needed to get something done. He hated to be confined and would cry every time I put him in. Each time he cried he would rub his eyes and out popped the lens. I spent hours and hours of my life combing the carpet for his lens. It was a wonderful victory each time I found it, but the stress I experienced during of that period of my life was extreme. What a blessing it was the first time he found me in the master bathroom and said, “can’t see Mommy!” He was holding the lens in his hand.
Today Caleb is four years old. His contact lens, patch, and glasses are a normal part of his life. He very rarely loses the lens anymore, and if he does he can usually tell us that it’s missing. Caleb’s vision is excellent with his lens and we are so proud of him wearing his lens and patch and cooperating with his doctor. We had the pleasure taking him to Disney World this summer. Many parents are excited that their kids get to see Mickey, but for us it is a victory that Caleb can SEE Mickey.