Cataracts

And no, I’m not talking about some sort of double-hulled sailing rig for our cats. I wish I were. No, what I’m talking about, instead, is that our seven-year-old daughter, Meredith, has cataracts as a result of the Prednisone (and probably the IV Solumedrol) she has been taking since March.

I’ll give you a minute to pick your jaw up off the floor; that’s what I had to do. More after the jump.

We’d always sort of suspected that our kids might be susceptible to needing vision-correction. Look at their dad! Beth’s vision is corrected through glasses….but it was never that bad to begin with. But Lars got his first pair of glasses in Kindergarten, and the prescription continued to get worse throughout high school and college, stabilizing (mostly) in the mid-20s range. So we’d figured that we would probably be in for one – and perhaps two – sets of glasses/contacts, etc.

That’s a far cry from having to consider ocular surgery for your seven-year-old, though.

Meredith had been complaining recently of somewhat blurred vision. She’s been absolutely devouring books lately, something that her mother and I considered a good thing overall. And something, frankly, she probably developed in the hospital those seven times she was in there during the spring and early summer. Truth be told, there just wasn’t that much else to do in the hospital, and she took to reading large, lengthy books like the Harry Potter series as a means to stave off boredom. Beth and I considered it on the whole a good thing: how many seven-year-olds can read those books (and understand them)? But – like many first-time readers – Meredith sort of had the “under-the-cover-with-a-flashlight” eagerness to read at any and all hours. So when she started complaining of “blurry” vision, we rolled our eyes and figured that she’d just spent too many hours with her nose in a book (combined with bad ocular genetics), and that it was time for her first real optometrist appointment and probably her first pair of glasses.

So today, at 2pm, we arrived at the optometrist’s office, assuming we’d get a diagnosis of general myopia and a prescription (to be filled by the optician who shares the practice) for 20/50 or so glasses. Worse things have happened. Instead, what Lars found was that the optometrist seemed very interested in the details of Meredith’s hospitalizations, how long she’d been taking Prednisone, Solumedrol, etc. That’s when I started to get worried. I started to have a vague memory of the doctors at Egleston saying that there was a “possibility” of vision-related complications from the ingestion of steroids….but truth be told, it was just one of several “possibilities,” like the ones they put on every medicine stronger than aspirin – heck, they even put it on aspirin. Have you really READ the insert in a bottle of Tylenol lately? That is some seriously scary stuff, if you read it all…late at night….with the lights off….

And that’s exactly the point: it’s a bit like a horror movie – modern medicine HAS to tell you (by dint of lawsuit) each and every possible complication which might arise from your ingestion of XYZ medicine, however remote the possibility. But usually, those possibilities are remote, indeed.

Apparently not, though, with our daughter, the “unusual case.”

She doesn’t feel particularly bad today (she and Jack are watching “Pokemon – Darkrai” – whatever the heck that is, LOL – right now), and though she was in the same room as me when the optometrist suggested that we go see a pediatric opthalmologist specializing in cataracts (of which there are understandably very few in the greater Atlanta area) sooner rather than later. She (the optometrist) had a mixture of embarrassment and worry on her face – embarrassment that this was something beyond her expertise, worry that a child might have to undergo a surgical procedure typically reserved for 65-year-olds. But she was both very helpful and very professional in that she recognized something that needed to be “bumped upstairs.” So our little Boo-Boo has yet another appointment, this Friday, with the chief of Pediatric opthalmology at Egleston – raising to two, the number of “chiefs” of various departments that Meredith will be on a first-name basis with.

I dunno….think good thoughts for us? Meredith’s cataracts are (described by the optometrist we saw today) somewhere between “mild” and “moderate,” but they would definitely account for the vision difficulties she’s been having. It’s like rubbing fine-grit sandpaper over a lens – it fogs it, permanently. We won’t know, until we see the specialist at Egleston on Friday, whether he will decide to operate now, or tell us to wait until Meredith’s more like 12 or 14 (and presumably her early-life changes in everything from hormone level to head-size will have slowed to a crawl instead of a gallop). We just don’t know.

But although Meredith seemed (and still seems) rather blasé about the whole affair (she was more concerned with whether the eyedrops used to dilate her eyes would sting than she seemed about the possibility of future surgery), her mother and I were – and are – pretty freaked out and depressed about this. It just seems like piling on; hasn’t she suffered enough, already?

Sorry. I’m going to go now; dinner’s ready and there’s not really much more to say except DAMMIT.

2 thoughts on “Cataracts

  1. OH. NO.

    Oh no… Poor kid!! My MIL has cataracts (also a complication of medications, actually, not so much her age) and she’s miserable. She can’t even read at all by this point, and she hates that.

    I know you’ll keep us posted.

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