Natalie and Riley – Bilateral Congenital Cataracts

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I was born with bilateral cataracts in April 1984. The condition is hereditary due to a faulty gene passed down from my grandmother. Initially, the doctors told my parents that my vision was fine, but at 2 months old my grandmother noticed that I was not following anything with my eyes. My mother scheduled an appointment at Azar Eye Clinic in Lafayette, Louisiana, shortly after, and I was officially diagnosed. I had surgery to remove the bad lenses soon after and was then given a prescription for glasses.

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As I grew older, my parents tried contact lenses, but that proved to be (from what I have been told) “a nightmare.” They could never get the contacts in or out, and I had problems with infections, so glasses it was. My vision today is not great. My left eye is much weaker than my right eye and can count fingers only.  (I can’t even see the “big E” on the eye chart.)  As a child, my parents tried patching but to no avail. My right eye with correction is about 20/30.  I am thankful that I am able to drive and live a normal life, but my husband and I knew that cataracts would be a strong possibility for our children.

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Riley was born on December 19, 2013.  The minute the doctor placed her on my stomach, I could see white dots in the middle of her pupils. I scheduled an appointment at Lafayette Family Eye Care with Dr. Richard Piccione. At just 2 weeks old, Riley was diagnosed with bilateral congenital cataracts. She had two surgeries at 6 and 8 weeks old to remove her lenses and was fit with +32 Silsoft contact lenses in both eyes. These lenses need to be taken out every six days, cleaned, and left out of her eyes for eight hours. I was terrified of those contacts, but I knew that this was the best treatment for her vision to develop normally. After a few weeks, a lot of tears, and some coaching from a very special optician named Ellen, Riley, my husband, and I finally got the hang of it. About a month later at one of Riley’s post-op appointments, Dr. Piccione told us that we needed to increase the prescription to a +35 in order for her to be nearsighted. This would require a custom lens from a different company and these bad boys would need to be taken out DAILY! If it sounds like a nightmare, well, it was.  I tore one of her lenses on day two of having them. I was so disappointed, but I was willing to give it another try. A week later the new lenses came in.  After an hour of trying to get those suckers in but failing, I gave up. At 6 months old Riley started “piggy backing” +32 lenses with +3 glasses on top.

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She is currently almost 9 months old and her prescription has decreased enough that she no longer needs the glasses. Hopefully she will only need to rely on the contacts until she is old enough for permanent implants. She is doing great with the  contacts and I finally feel like she can see!

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I am so grateful to have the care and support from Dr. Piccione and his staff.  Without them Riley wouldn’t have come as far as she has.

2 Comments

  • manzarm says:

    nice article for kids.

  • Beatty Bunch says:

    Thank you so much for sharing your powerful story. Our 16 year old daughter, Becca, was born with microphthalmia, cataracts and other dysgenesis of the irises and corneas. She had lensectomies at 6 days, bilateral. She is not a candidate for IOL’s. We tried extended wear post-op, but she also has extreme allergies and dry eye and the eye infections were terrible with those. So, within a few months, we went to daily wear RGP’s; it took a slavish dedication to the art and the ritual of newborn contact lens care, but my wife and I eventually became experts at this new to us discipline. We had our ‘nightmare’ times, too, but those times became fewer and further apart. Today, at 16, our daughter sees 20/20 bilateral with her aphakic glasses and 20-25 with contacts and glasses. She rides bikes, plays frisbee, video games and reads standard sized text. She has been experiencing higher pressures for the past three years, but with latanprost, they are regulated and no glaucoma damage, praise God. Your family story is so powerful and we hope ours offers you support and fellowship, too! We’re on Facebook – Beatty Bunch and hope to keep in touch! Best regards and hugs from our family to yours!

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