July 1999 – Amanda’s eye battles hit an all-time low in July. We had a follow-up appointment with Dr. Levin, opthamologist at HSC. The news we got at that appointment was devastating. Amanda would have to have cataract surgery. Remember that she was on an extensive course of steroid drops to control the eye inflammation. We had the battle over pressures and it was something we were still struggling with. However, the other side effect is the drop can “feed” a cataract. Amanda had developed a small cataract towards the end of 1998. It was fairly small and hadn’t grown much but, all of a sudden, it had grown substantially in a short period of time. It was now pretty much obscuring the vision in her left eye. The only option we had was to have it taken out.
Dr. Levin kindly and patiently explained the procedure to us as well as any risks involved. We knew we were in the hands of a world-class physician. But we were terrified. We had gone to see Dr. Levin at the start of our summer vacation – from Toronto, we had planned to drive around the lake and go to Niagara Falls – a family favourite (after Disney, of course!). I recall waiting until Amanda was asleep in the back seat to have my little mental meltdown. I bawled most of the way to Niagara. It wasn’t just the thought of the surgery that terrified me, it was the aftermath of it. To remove the cataract, they would take her lens out. Because of the uveitis, they wouldn’t put an implant in. So it means that she would be basically blind in that eye without some kind of correction – she could see colour and light but nothing with any clarity. She would have to be fitted with a contact lens and probably glasses as well. How in the hell do you put a contact lens into the eye of a 4 yr old!!
Unfortunately, there was a wait for the surgery. There was no extreme urgency in getting it done as quickly as possible. However, one factor weighing in was her vision. Amanda was at a critical age for vision development. The cataract was pretty much obscuring her vision in that eye. The longer we had to wait, the more her vision would deteriorate and we may not be able to restore it. Fortunately, we only had to wait until February.