Joy, Hazel and Andrew’s fight for sight

05 May 15

written by:

Heather Fanning

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Joy, Hazel and Andrew’s story living with congenital cataracts.

Mother and daughter, Joy and Hazel, were both born with congenital cataracts a condition that has affected three generations of their family.

Joy’s mother lived with the condition, which was passed onto Joy, who then passed the gene onto her two daughters, Hazel and Melissa.

Joy,  received ten operations when she was younger and was also diagnosed with nystagmus. When aged 31 she was diagnosed with glaucoma and at the age of 48 received her first corneal graft and this procedure was repeated six years later. This has had a huge impact on Joy’s vision – she has about three per cent of her vision remaining and is now registered blind.

Her oldest daughter, Hazel, was born in 1978 and shortly afterwards was diagnosed with the condition. She had corrective surgery when she was just a few months old.

“Joy said: I can remember me and my husband coming out of the doctors in floods of tears after we received Hazel’s diagnosis. No one likes to see their children in pain.”

Hazel also developed a slight nystagmus and has about ten per cent of her sight remaining. Hazel went on to have two children, William, aged 10 and Andrew, 7.

Hazel started to notice that something was wrong with Andrew’s sight when he was six weeks old. She said: “A mum just knows when something isn’t quite right. I flagged this during Andrew’s eight week check-up and following tests, the GP confirmed that the cataracts were there.”

Following this Andrew also went through a corrective procedure and thankfully because of advances in science and research – the operation proved successful.

Hazel said: “Taking your baby to hospital and sitting there with an anaesthetist putting them to sleep - is heartbreaking. I’m just so pleased that Andrew’s outcome has been so much better than mine.

“Eye research is really important to me, so I support Fight for Sight because it’s enabling more medical research to take place. My hope is that medical research will continue to improve from generation to generation.”

Cataract

What is it?

Just behind the iris (the coloured part of the eye) is a lens. We use the lens to help focus light onto the retina (the light-sensitive layer at the back of the eye).

Lenses need to be clear (transparent) to let the light pass through. Cataract is the name for a cloudy lens in the eye.

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