Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Precious Eyes

Yesterday Abby added a new diagnosis to her long list.  During her yearly check-up with her retina specialist he decided to check the pressure in her eyes.  As I watched his face during the short test I quickly realized something was wrong.  They poked both of her eyes with a small tool and read the numbers. 

Normal eye pressure falls between 8-21 mmHg.  Abby registered 48 mmHg in her right eye!

The doctor looked up and told me that Abby has glaucoma.  Her right eye is not draining the fluid properly so it has been building too much pressure.  Abby's history with ROP (retinopathy of prematurity) and her multiple eye surgeries have caused scar tissue to clog the drainage system in her eye.  If left untreated, the building pressure in her eye can eventually damage the optic nerve and completely destroy any vision she has left.  

ROP is one of the many complications of Abby's prematurity.  It can rob normal vision from it's tiny victims.  In our case, Abby started receiving eye exams just a few weeks after her birth.

Her first exam was delayed a little longer than other preemies her gestation because she was in such critical condition.  After about 8 weeks of weekly exams she started showing signs of Retinopathy of Prematurity.  This is abnormal blood vessel growth inside the developing eye.

The majority of eye maturation occurs between 28 and 40 weeks gestation.  When a baby is born too early, the normal development of these blood vessels stops.  The body some how triggers new growth (long list of possible reasons: oxygen, being on ventilator, other complications) but it can become very abnormal, forming scar tissue that eventually grabs the retina and pulls it away from it's natural position against the back of the eye.  

Abby had treatments for ROP beginning with laser in both eyes.  She remained stable for a while but eventually showed drastic eye changes that needed more treatment.  She was transferred to the University of TN's NICU for a special surgery to repair the worse eye.  This surgery failed and the surgeon told us there was no hope. 

 Our wonderful neonatologists at East TN Children's shared one last idea before we gave up.

I flew with Abby in a special medical transport plane to Michigan for treatment at William Beaumont Hospital.  Dr. Trese is a world renown retinal specialist who specifically treats premature infants.  During our month long stay in MI Abby had 2 more surgeries (vitrectomies).  One retina reattached and one remained completely detached.

Abby's vision is still not entirely known to us.  According to her records her left eye's retina is completely detached with no vision potential... but we know she can see light.  Her right eye has a reattached retina, a visible macula and a pale, intact, optic nerve.  We know she sees light and also some objects in that eye.  

Abby is now getting eye drops twice a day in her right eye, and will see a pediatric glaucoma specialist in Birmingham next Thursday (July 3rd).  Our doctor told us children usually need surgery to correct the problem.  

We find ourselves starting down a new road of unfamiliarity.  It seems strange that Abby's vision could get any worse... but I suppose we shouldn't be surprised at anything.

Another chance to learn to Trust our Lord.  It makes this verse have a whole new meaning.

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight."

Proverbs 3:5-6

My Utmost for His Highest devo for today!  Seemed fitting to share.