Sunday Star-Times

Infection blinds teen in one eye

- SARA MEIJ

An Australian teenager was left blind in one eye when he contracted a sudden sinus infection on a cruise to New Zealand.

Riley Adams, 15, was on a 10-day holiday with his family when he went to bed on January 12 with a headache. When he woke the following morning his left eye was the size of a golf ball.

His dad Jason Adams said ‘‘alarm bells started ringing’’ when he saw his son and he hurried to the ship’s doctor for help.

The doctor gave Riley, from Brisbane, antibiotic eye drops. ‘‘I couldn’t really get the antibiotic­s in his eye because it was closed shut.’’

At 12 pm and with no sign of improvemen­t, Jason said he took his son back to the doctor, who put him on an IV drip and then on another one at midnight.

‘‘After being seen by the on-ship doctors and still being out at sea for another 24hrs, panic did start to creep in.’’

As soon as the ship docked in Dunedin last Sunday, the anxious couple rushed their son to hospital, where doctors diagnosed a sinus infection that had spread to his eye.

A CT scan led to immediate surgery and the teenager was found to have contracted sinusitis, blocking drainage holes in his sinus region and causing an infection that led to orbital cellulitis, an inflammati­on of tissue in part of the eye.

Despite doctors’ best efforts Riley’s sight was irreparabl­y damaged, and they were forced to give his parents the shattering news their son would be left blind in one eye.

‘‘Devastatin­gly, the outcome we all had to face was that Riley’s optical nerve has been damaged in the time the infection took hold, and now our beautiful, charismati­c, outgoing 15 year-old son has lost his sight in his left eye.’’

The infection came as a shock to Jason and his wife Jodi, as Riley hadn’t shown any signs of a sinus infection prior to getting the headache.

‘‘He was running around the ship, playing basketball, riding the wave pool on the boat, hanging with his mates, he even met a girl on the ship already.

‘‘He was just being a teenage boy having a sensationa­l time.’’

Jason said their family, including their two other sons of seven and 12, had been looking forward to the trip for a long time. It was supposed to be ‘‘a holiday of a lifetime’’ and Adams said it was ‘‘certainly not what it turned out to be’’.

They had organised the 10-day cruise together with three other families, who all had boys as well.

Jason said they had left their two younger sons with the other families, who would take care of them and take them back to Brisbane.

He said it would be another five days minimum before Riley would be released from hospital, as there currently was a risk of the infection spreading to meningitis.

Riley had been put on even stronger antibiotic­s and steroids, which doctors hoped would kill off the ‘‘aggressive infection’’.

Jason said doctors had told him Riley’s case was ‘‘unique’’ and that it had been 25 years in New Zealand since someone lost their sight from orbital cellulitis.

It was Riley himself who tabled the idea of starting a GoFundMe page.

‘‘He is well aware of the situation he’s in and the obstacles ahead of him. He told us he realised the cost that was going to be involved in his rehabilita­tion and wanted to have a part in some way in helping.’’

The GoFundMe page has received more than $13,000 in donations to date.

Jason said Riley was ‘‘mentally very mature and a very strong person’’ but he broke down when doctors told him becoming a pilot or a profession­al rugby player were most likely not on the cards for the teenager.

‘‘All teenagers have things they want to be but in Riley’s case the two things he wanted to be were the things he was told he couldn’t be anymore.’’

Despite their harrowing ordeal, Riley’s parents have nothing but praise for the medical teams treating their son in Dunedin.

‘‘The care that we are receiving in this hospital is absolutely amazing – he is their number one priority and for this we are forever grateful to the staff.

‘‘We’re feeling lots of different emotions, angry and sad, but we’re staying positive.’’

The family are now stuck in Dunedin, unable to return to Brisbane until the infection is gone and Riley can fly without risk. Jason said neither him or his wife had slept much in the last week.

Jason said the last several days had been a whirlwind and they were slowly adjusting to the new situation. his brain, causing

 ??  ?? Australian teenager Riley Adams (left) has been left blind in one eye after he contracted a sudden sinus infection on a cruise to New Zealand. He was taken to hospital in Dunedin where he underwent immediate surgery (below).
Australian teenager Riley Adams (left) has been left blind in one eye after he contracted a sudden sinus infection on a cruise to New Zealand. He was taken to hospital in Dunedin where he underwent immediate surgery (below).

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