Monday, March 15, 2010

Allie update from the ophthalmologist

098 Here Allie is pictured with therapist Pam playing an educational game on the computer. In front of Allie is a big red button connected to the computer via a USB hub. If you look closely at the screen you'll see the edges of a jack-in-the-box. Allie pushes the button which plays a tune busting Jack out of solitary confinement.

Allie is legally blind. She mostly depends on sound and touch to get the job done in these little computer labs. But don't despair. Allie has come a long way. Through the power of prayer, the incredible design of our Wonderful Creator, and maybe even a miraculous touch, Allie is doing better now than at the beginning of our journey.

Allie's first eye doctor report after she emerged from her coma was dismal. The diagnosis was atrophied (gray) optic nerves and cortical visual impairment (CVI). Check out what one Medline Plus has to say about Optic Nerve Atrophy:


Once it has occurred, damage from optic nerve atrophy cannot be reversed. The underlying disease must be found and treated, if possible, to prevent further loss.

Outlook (Prognosis)

Vision lost to optic nerve atrophy cannot be recovered. If the cause can be identified and controlled, further visual loss progressing to blindness may be prevented.

"Optic nerve atrophy cannot be reversed." That news sucked the soul out of me when I heard it. The CVI diagnosis was a little easier to live with because that was the result of brain damage. The brain adapts more easily in small children. With early intervention and therapy there is hope; the sky is the limit. But once the optic nerve is damaged, that's it. It's like losing a finger; you don't grow new fingers. Limits hover closer to the ground with optic atrophy.

One year later, the same doctor examined Allie and said, "Her optic nerve appears pink and healthy... that's good."

I jumped out of my chair and said, "Last year you diagnosed her with optic atrophy! What are you saying."

"I guess I made a mistake."

Or is there another answer to my question?

That was about a year and a half ago. She still has CVI, but, like I said, that improves. Last week Allie had another eye exam. Everyone that works with her wonders just how much she sees. The doctor determined that she definitely has vision. The diagnosis has been slightly upgraded to delayed visual attention exotropia. (Sorry. I wasn't able to find easy access to articles at my reading level to link for you. You can google the italicized word if you like and read some pieces posted in medical journals.) I know, a diagnosis that has to pull from a Latin vocabulary to have a name can't be good. But it's actually improvement. The work Allie is putting in at school is paying off. So are your prayers. Keep up the good work.


Vicki Small said...

So...what you're saying is that God is still in the Good News business! This is a wonderful report, Bryon; I'm just thrilled for you all!

Bryonm said...

Thanks, Vicki!

Shaun Sells said...

That is awesome.