A local optometrist wants to make sure parents have their children's eyes checked regularly from a young age after she diagnosed a youngster who could have gone blind without proper treatment.
Carrie-Lynn Snee says she discovered signs of familial exudative vitreo-retinopathy (FEVR) in four-year-old Riley Fraser when his parents, Chris and Leah Fraser, took him for his first eye exam last December. Snee is an optometrist and co-owner of Doctors Eyecare.
"It is a genetic disease that usually occurs with no symptoms at first but can lead to blurred vision or even blindness, especially when not detected and treated early on," Snee says.
FEVR is the abnormal growth and leakage of retinal blood vessels, she explains.
"When the vessels leak blood and exudate, it pools and congeals on the retina causing traction, scarring and in some cases, tearing of the retina." Exudate is a milky white substance made up of proteins from the blood.
Leah Fraser says that although Riley's right eye is occasionally lazy, she and Chris did not suspect that the boy had any vision problems until the exam.
Snee says that at the exam, Riley could only see the largest letter on the eye chart with his right eye while the vision in his left eye was normal.
She says that she could see the membrane formed by the leaking proteins inside Riley's right eye and immediately referred him to a pediatric ophthalmologist.
"We were shocked when she was finding things and then it kind of made sense," says Leah.
"He was compensating so well with his other eye."
She says some of her and Chris' relatives had lazy eyes but were never diagnosed with FEVR.
Riley received laser eye surgery at B.C. Children's Hospital and his vision seems to have improved, says Leah.
"It's hard to tell because it's normal for him.
"Sometimes he says it's blurry."
Leah says Riley will have a follow-up exam at the hospital in September to check if more surgery is necessary.
"This case just exemplifies the importance of having children's eyes checked early and regularly even if there are no apparent problems," says Snee.
She adds that last July, she examined a six-month-old baby who had a cataract in one eye despite showing no symptoms. The cataract would have led to permanent legal blindness if it was not caught and treated while the eye was developing.
The B.C. Association of Optometrists recommend giving babies their first eye exam at six months of age, Snee notes.
Leah says her family is very grateful for Snee's efforts.
"We were really glad we were under Dr. Snee's good care. She's a really good doctor."