by Satina Richardson

Deanna Jones’ 19-month-old son, Sammy, was being clumsy. She thought this was because he is a toddler, or because she thought he had a lazy eye. Jones began seeking medical help for him and her efforts ultimately saved his vision.

The Salem, AL, family couldn’t find an eye care provider who treated pediatric patients under age four without less than a month-long wait. Her research led Jones to UAB Eye Care pediatric optometrist Kathy Weise, OD, MBA, FAAO, who worked Sammy in the next day.

“Our first appointment there was one of the very hardest days as a mother,” Jones said. “Several people looked at Sammy and we just kept getting worse and worse news. At the time, they thought it was a complete retinal detachment because they couldn’t see his retina. They also mentioned a retinoblastoma. So not only did I figure out my son was blind in one eye, I also realized he could have cancer.”

Weise immediately referred Sammy to retina specialists for an eye ultrasound to confirm her suspicions. An eye exam under anesthesia was scheduled for the next week to thoroughly examine the toddler’s eyes.

The retinal surgeon was surprised and excited to discover that Sammy’s retina was okay. He’d need surgery to clear out the vitreous, but instead of cancer and blindness, Jones heard “restoration of vision.”

“I teared up when I heard that there was hope of saving Sammy’s left eye,” Weise said. “The following week, the bloodwork came back negative—no cancer, no infections, nothing progressive. I was so excited for Deanna. She knew something was wrong and listened to her gut. She was a rock of courage and helped Sammy do all we needed to get us the right answers.”

From the pediatrician to the pediatric optometrist to the retina specialist, Sammy had a team rooting for him. But the care didn’t stop there. Weise connected Sammy with UAB Eye Care’s Optical Services to immediately be fit in glasses intended to protect his right eye and help restore the vision in his left eye.

Because of her belief in educating patients while providing care, Weise explained to Deanna how patching the right eye could help strengthen the vision in Sammy’s left eye as well.

With the dedication of Sammy’s family and team of doctors, there is hope of restoring good vision in the left eye—and getting his 3D vision back for when he’s ready to play sports.

Jones said, “Sammy is still adjusting with the eye patching. We struggle some days more than others, but overall, we are making progress! He loves his glasses and I do as well. I didn’t realize how bad his vision was until we had to start covering his good eye.”

“I know I’ve said this, but I could not be more thankful for Dr. Weise and the treatment my son received. I saw FOUR doctors when we only had an appointment with one. No one takes care of patients like that, and I work in healthcare.”