Maddie was an active and happy six-year-old when she began suffering severe headaches. She was also struggling to see and read the board at school so her mum, Karen, took her for an eye test. They had expected to go home with a simple prescription for glasses. Instead the optometrist immediately called us at the Lions Eye Institute for an urgent appointment.
Maddie has an inherited form of glaucoma and urgent treatment was her only chance of keeping her sight. She promptly had Molteno tubes implanted into both eyes. These tiny stents drained the fluid collecting behind her eyes to ease the high pressure that was claiming her vision.
Glaucoma is the second most common cause of blindness, usually affecting older people but occasionally children too. With no cure yet, surgery is the best hope for people like Maddie. But these procedures are not effective for everyone, 30% of surgeries fail over a four-year period.
Had Maddie’s surgery not worked, by now she wouldn’t be able to see anything at all – her whole world would be black or grey.
Here at the Lions Eye Institute, we are working with our Canadian partners at the Simon Fraser University to invent a world-first imaging technique that will enable scanning of the eye’s lymphatic vessels. This form of imaging will help us understand the effectiveness of drug treatments and the eyes drainage process, hopefully leading to prolonged surgery results of people with glaucoma.
While Maddie’s implants could keep improving her vision for 10 years or much longer, at some point she may need additional treatments and surgeries.
Only through breakthroughs like the invention of new imaging technologies can we develop treatments for eye diseases such as glaucoma that are effective for more patients.
If you would like to help patients like Maddie by continuing the progress of our sight-saving research at the Lions Eye Institute, please give generously today.