Lucky sight escape
The foster family of a very lucky school girl is crediting her local optometrist for saving her sight.
When 10 year old Nicklah-Rae Ru Grace woke up one morning with big black blobs at the front of her eyes, her foster parents were understandably alarmed and immediately took her to their local optometrist at Specsavers Manukau.
What they didn’t realise was that the sudden eyesight deterioration was linked to Cat Scratch Disease, a condition which Nicklah-Rae had developed in the previous few months after being scratched by a wild cat.
Specsavers Manukau optometrist and co-owner, Chee Loh, examined Nicklah-Rae’s eyes and immediately diagnosed a rare condition called optic neuritis, an inflammation of the optic nerve connecting the eye to the brain.
‘‘Nicklah-Rae was very fortunate that her caregiver, Starsim Simeki, took immediate action to get her eyes looked at by a professional,’’ he says.
‘‘Had there been a delay in seeking help, she may have lost her sight which would have been an absolute tragedy for such a young girl. I have almost 10 years experience as an optometrist and I have never seen this condition in a child before.’’
Mr Loh used digital retinal photography as part of his initial diagnosis. It provides a detailed colour image of the back of Nicklah-Rae’s eye and will help Mr Loh to continually monitor her condition.
‘‘Our eyes really do reflect our general health and in this case NicklahRae was very lucky that her eyes alerted us and then other medical professionals to the seriousness of her condition.
‘‘Many diseases don’t exhibit early warning signals before they begin to damage your vision so by the time you notice you have a problem, your eyes could already be irreparably damaged. This is why regular eye tests are so important even if you don’t think your prescription needs updating.’’
Mr Simeki says he and Nicklah-Rae are hugely relieved that the condition was caught early as it could have potentially led to blindness if not treated.
Mr Loh is encouraging other New Zealanders who are overdue for an eye test, or even concerned about the health of their eyes to drop in and see them and take advantage of the free digital retinal photography service that is part of every eye examination.