A Facebook Photo May Have Saved a Girl's Sight
By Beth Greenfield - 4/3/2014
Tennessee mother of two Tara Taylor may have very well saved the vision of her 3-year-old daughter simply by posting her photo on Facebook. That’s where two observant friends saw the picture and noticed a strange glow in little Rylee’s left eye, prompting the eye exam that revealed she had Coats disease, a rare retinal disorder.
“They said, ‘Hey, I’m sure it’s nothing. It’s probably the lighting, but your daughter’s eye is glowing and you might want to have it checked out because it’s a sign there could be an issue with her eye,’” Tara told WREG Memphis. After a trip to the doctor, she discovered her friends' instincts were right.
“Anything that happens in the retina will alter that red reflex, or ‘red eye,’ which is a reflex from the back of the retina,” Dr. Jorge Calzada tells Yahoo Shine. While Rylee's right eye did have the typical red eye, the left eye had a larger, more yellowish glow to it, because “she had a scar in the back part of her eye,” says Calzado, the opthalmologist specializing in retinal surgery who diagnosed Rylee at the Charles Retina Institute.
Coats disease, named for the Scottish ophthalmologist George Coats, who first identified it, involves the abnormal development of the blood vessels behind the retina, which is the layer of tissue lining the eye’s inner surface. It can lead to retinal swelling and detachment and cause vision loss, typically in one eye only, if not caught early enough. In those lucky cases of early detection, such as Rylee’s, treatments including laser therapy or cryotherapy can save or restore a person’s eyesight.
Warning signs may include an eye drifting inward or a noticeable loss of vision, Calzada notes. However, this wasn't the case for Rylee. “She didn’t sit close to the TV. She is actually in gymnastics and can walk on the balance beam, so there was no indication that there were any visual problems with her left eye,” Tara told WREG Memphis.
An eye with a glow like Rylee’s should never be ignored, Calzada stresses. “If you see that odd reflection or lack of a red reflex, get a dilated-eye exam,” he says. It could be a warning sign not only of Coats, but also of problems including a cataract, retinal detachment or even retinoblastoma, a cancerous tumor of the retina. “Thank God the child did not have that,” he says.
Children won't tell you that they can't see out of one eye or hear from one ear. Parents should have them checked out regularly, or even do simple tests themselves... such as covering one eye or ear while using the other to tell you what they see or hear. The method (only one red eye in the pictures) mentioned in this article could be used also.