UAE: Doctors restore vision of 6-month-old blinded in one eye

Saman Haziq/Abu Dhabi
Filed on May 18, 2021
Supplied photo

The baby was diagnosed with genetic disease that affects one in 25,000 males worldwide.

Five months after the birth of their son Mohamed Abdulla Al Shehi, an Emirati couple noticed that their baby’s left eye had turned inwards.

“My wife noticed that his left eye was not in its normal place. She tried covering the right eye to see if he would respond to moving objects in front of him, but he didn’t. We were very scared that he had lost his vision,” said the boy’s father Abdulla Al Shehi.

During the initial consultations, they were told that baby Mohamed was having an eye turn and visual loss secondary to congenital retinal detachment.

Not convinced by the diagnosis, the Ras Al Khaimah-based family consulted the paediatric eye care team at Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi. Specialists evaluated the situation and discovered that the baby was suffering from a rare retinal disease that severely affected his vision. While both his eyes were affected, he had gone completely blind in his left eye.

The team found out that little Mohamed had an unusually early onset of a genetic retinal disorder that almost exclusively affects males. Juvenile retinoschisis is a hereditary disease that causes retinal layers to split, resulting in a loss of vision.

This genetic eye disease affects about one in 25,000 males worldwide, and it usually manifests in later childhood.

Dr Arif O. Khan, paediatric ophthalmologist, ocular geneticist and professor of ophthalmology at the Eye Institute at Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi,

The baby was treated with medical eye drops. He was then fitted with glasses and doctors recommended that his right eye be patched to address the left eye turn.

“We were able to restore the vision to his left eye and straighten it without surgery. Overall, the child had a fantastic outcome because the correct diagnosis was made early, the retinoschisis was treated, and the paediatric eye issues that were induced by the retinoschisis were also diagnosed and treated early. These pediatric eye issues would not be picked up by a retina specialist who only works with adults,” said Dr Khan.

Mohamed will require ongoing care for his condition to ensure that his vision does not deteriorate and will have to continue medication.

“We are so thankful that the doctors were able to restore my boy’s vision. The eyesight of Mohamed’s three older siblings is fine but if we decide to have more children, we are now well-informed about the risk and will make sure to get them checked,” said Abdulla Al Shehi.

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