Children’s Eye Physicians has a very special relationship with an extraordinary woman. And the best part, she’s been sharing her artistic talents with us, our families and our patients. Pictured above is her latest creation. African Safari.
A patient of our practice since she was 6 weeks old, she has graciously agreed to share with you her story and her journey, with us by her and her family’s side, helping restoring and preserving her vision.
She was diagnosed at birth with bilateral congenital cataracts, requiring that both lens be removed, followed by wearing aphakic contacts lenses daily, ensuring her vision develops normally. She had lenses transplanted into her eyes, when she was 18 years old. She also has had two eye muscle surgeries, correcting her eye alignment. We are happy to report that her vision is corrected to 20/25 and 20/20 and we’re thrilled she’s an important member of our team here at Children’s Eye Physicians, helping to change our exam rooms into different worlds for our patients and their families.
Congenital Cataracts Summary
The collective term “congenital cataract” refers to a lens opacity, present at birth. A normal lens allows light to pass through it unhindered. A cataract is a spot on the lens that isn’t “clear” distorting vision and, in a pediatric patient causing vision to develop abnormally or not at all. Congenital cataracts cover a broad spectrum of severity: whereas some lens opacities do not progress and are visually insignificant, others can produce profound visual impairment.
Congenital cataracts may be unilateral (one eye) or bilateral (both eyes).
In general, the younger the child, the greater the urgency in removing the cataract, because of the risk of amblyopia (poor uncorrectable vision in one or both eyes). For optimal visual development in newborns and young infants, a visually significant unilateral congenital cataract should be detected and removed before age 6 weeks, and visually significant bilateral congenital cataracts should be removed before age 10 weeks.
What is Aphakia?
Aphakia is a condition where the eye no longer has a lens to focus light on the retina. Commonly Aphakia is a result of a cataract removal operation where the patient was unable to receive an intraocular lens implant surgically either due to age or other complicating factors.
What are Aphakic Contact Lenses?
The preferred method of correction of Aphakia is contact lenses instead of eyeglasses and these lenses must be worn daily, taken out at night. Many different contact lenses are available including disposable contact lenses. Contact lenses can restore vision with complete peripheral vision and little minification error. Magnification error is when looking through a high plus prescription all images are increased in size. This is especially difficult when only one eye is Aphakic. Wearing eyeglasses would cause the Aphakic eye to have a much larger magnified image compared to the normal eye. Contact lenses of the same correction will allow images to have less magnification error.
An interesting factoid–
At age 68, in 1908, the famed artist attributed to the Impressionistic age of art was affected by cataract at both eyes.
Who? None other than Claude Monet!
A cataract is a progressive opacity of the crystalline lens that (among other things) filters colors. As a cataract develops, whites become yellow, greens become yellow-green and reds, oranges. Blues and purples are replaced by reds and yellows. Details fade out, shapes blur and become hazy.
When his vision altered, Monet went on with working. He could know what color he used by the labels and the unvarying order he set them on the palette. “My bad sight means that I see everything through a mist,” – he wrote – “Even so it is beautiful, and that’s what I would like to show.”
In 1923, a close friend convinced Monet to undergo surgery. In 1923, he could see again with his right eye, wearing special green glasses. But his vision was still altered, and he refused to undergo surgery for the left eye.
Monet resume painting as soon as 1923. His paintings changed in style and coloring. The House Seen from the Roses Garden shows the effects of the operation. In this series, Monet painted either with his left eye suffering from cataract – everything is red, the sky is yellow – or with the operated eye – everything is blue.
In spite of this handicap, Claude Monet continued to paint until 1926, a few months before he died.