Nebraska baby faces blindness from geriatric eyesight problem that usually affects seniors

A Nebraska mom saved her baby daughter from going blind after spotting a barely-there abnormality in the child’s eye. 

Brandee Artale noticed a curious clouding in both of her newborn’s eyes while breastfeeding, and immediately knew something was wrong.  

The family would later learn that this is a symptom of infant cataracts — when the eye becomes coated in an opaque lens. 

If left untreated, the condition cause babies to lose their site. 

Brandee Artale [shown] noticed that her newborn¿s eyes were clouded over, which were found to have infant - or congenital - cataracts

Brandee Artale [shown] noticed that her newborn’s eyes were clouded over, which were found to have infant – or congenital – cataracts

Mrs Artale first noticed that her daughter's eyes were cloudier than usual while she was breastfeeding

Mrs Artale first noticed that her daughter’s eyes were cloudier than usual while she was breastfeeding

About three in every 10,000 US babies are born with infant cataracts, also called congenital cataracts, according to the American Academy of Ophthalmology.

The condition, which mostly affects older adults, causes the lens of the eye to lose its transparency, allowing less light to pass through, resulting in cloudy vision. Over time, the clouding gets worse until patients reach total vision loss.

The cause of baby Madison’s cataracts is unknown, though it often develops due to genetic abnormalities.

Mrs Artale told Good Morning America about the moment she spotted the condition: ‘I was really looking at her … and I was like, something just looks weird in her eyes. It looked kind of cloudy in a way.’

The Artales took their daughter to see Dr Paul Rychwalski, opthamologist at Children’s Nebraska hospital, who performed three surgeries on Madison over nine months, including two when she was a newborn, which saved her vision.

Both surgeries had to be performed before she turned six weeks old to remove the cloudiness over her eyes.

Dr Rychwalski said: ‘The brain is not fully turned on in those first six weeks so we have some flexibility, but after that the clock starts ticking.’

A build-up of pressure in her eyes required a third surgery to correct the common side effect of cataracts surgery.

The Artales took their daughter to see Dr Rychwalski [shown] who performed three surgeries on Madison over nine months, including two when she was a newborn, which saved her vision.

The Artales took their daughter to see Dr Rychwalski [shown] who performed three surgeries on Madison over nine months, including two when she was a newborn, which saved her vision.

Madison was finally able to be fitted for glasses, an opportunity that has changed the baby¿s life as well as those of her mother and father, Andrew [Shown]

Madison was finally able to be fitted for glasses, an opportunity that has changed the baby’s life as well as those of her mother and father, Andrew [Shown]

He added: ‘There’s a very really good chance that, if we can monitor carefully, she could have better than 20/40 vision in each eye.

‘But lots of roadblocks can come, so this family will be a really close part of our family at Children’s Nebraska for many years, just making sure she doesn’t have any later complications.’

Madison was finally able to be fitted for glasses, an opportunity that has changed the baby’s life as well as those of her mother and father, Andrew.

She is grumpy when she needs to take them off and looks for them as soon as she wakes up.

Mrs Artale said: “She was fighting it at first and then she finally could see things. She looked at me like, “Mom, I see you,” and I was just bawling.’ ‘

You absolutely get to see her take everything in.’

Mr Artale added: ‘A lot of parents, at first they’ll tell me, ‘My child will not wear glasses,’ and my retort is, “Well, just wait and see.”

‘When the child is presented with what real, focused vision is like, they’ll rapidly take to it.’

Her prognosis was very good, thanks to her mother’s ability to spot the unusual quality of her daughter’s eyesight.

The Artales now want to bring awareness to their daughter’s condition, hoping that parents can avoid the risk of blindness in their babies.

Dr Rychwalski echoed their mission, saying that the most important thing is for parents to feel empowered to bring up the abnormality with their child’s doctor. And parents can pay attention to how their baby looks in photos.

He said: ‘It’s normal [in photos] to have this red reflex, or “red eye,” and if we have one side that’s red and one side that’s white, that could signal something blocking light in the eye.

‘If you ever see an abnormal red reflex or a white pupil, that’s something you’d want to talk to your pediatrician or your eye doctor right away about.’

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