Patient stories: Seeing the future

Natalie Weil in clinic with baby David for his first post surgery exam and instructing his parents on how to place and remove the new contact lenses.

Natalie Weil (Pediatric ophthalmology fellow '15) in clinic with baby David for his first post surgery exam and instructing his parents on how to place and remove the new contact lenses.

Moments after the birth of their second sonm David, mother Georgia and dad Jonathan got the news that their beautiful baby boy likely had a cataract. An ophthalmologist was asked to provide his opinion, and he referred the family to Emory Eye Center’s Pediatric Ophthalmology Service for follow up.

Little did this family know that a multi-year nationwide study, based at and led by Emory Eye Center, recently took place regarding congenital cataracts. Named the Infant Aphakia Treatment Study (IATS), the findings, reported in JAMA Ophthalmology in March 2014 revealed that a contact lens is preferred over an intraocular lens (IOL) for the eye that had the cataract surgically removed [press release]. The family was in good hands.

Mother Georgia said she immediately felt at ease with pediatric ophthalmologist, Natalie Weil (pediatric ophthalmology fellow ’15), assistant professor, who joined the Pediatric Ophthalmology section in September 2015.  Weil performed David’s cataract surgery just six weeks after his birth.

"I felt good about Dr. Weil,” said mother Georgia. “She was attentive, and my family was comfortable with her.”

Because of the family’s particular needs, they were able to obtain David’s contact lens through Emory Eye Center’s Children’s Eyeglass Fund. On the day the family came in for the lens, they first saw specialist Buddy Russell, who has impressive expertise fitting babies and children with contact lenses, followed by Weil, who gave little David a thorough check up and put the family at ease.

To learn about supporting the Children’s Eyeglass Fund, please contact Karla Ruggiero, director of development, karla.ruggiero@emory.edu.

Donor Jim Lewis listens as researcher Eldon Geisert explains the complicated nature of glaucoma.

Former contact lens specialist, Buddy Russell, inserting new contact lens into David's eye post surgery.

“Helping David and his family has been a pleasure. We are very fortunate at Emory to have resources that help give patients the opportunity for better vision. Many of these funds are raised by families of other children who have needed eye care in the past." says Weil. "Based on the IATS, we now know that patients less than one year of age have better outcomes and less postoperative complications with aphakia and contact lens use. For many families, cost and access to care can be a barrier. But for David, thanks to his dedicated parents and the generosity of others, that will not be the case."

The family was most grateful for the expertise at Emory and the opportunity to receive a sight-saving contact lens, which will enable little David to have the best vision possible as he grows up.

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