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Giving Children a Chance for Sight

Giving Children a Chance for Sight

To watch Cecilia Joseph on a playground is to see a child as happy and active as any 2-year-old could be, says her mom, Maria Joseph. But that was not always the case.

Cecilia was born with several serious vision problems. The list reads like an ophthalmic dictionary. Cecilia has microphthalmos — a small eye, her left. That eye also has an optic nerve coloboma, which is an incomplete formation of the optic nerve, and amblyopia, which is decreased vision from nonuse. Cecilia’s right eye has a coloboma too. On top of these conditions, Cecilia has refractive errors — her left eye has what doctors call high myopia (very strong near-sightedness), plus severe astigmatism. Her right eye has moderate myopia with moderate astigmatism.

So complex were her conditions that her local ophthalmologist had essentially thrown in the towel on Cecilia’s left eye, says Maria Joseph.

“When Cecilia was diagnosed at 8 months old, the local ophthalmologist told us there was nothing we could do to save the vision in that eye. We just needed to focus on protecting her better eye,” she says. “I wanted a second opinion.”

That’s when Joseph learned of Wilmer and the work of Edward Kuwera, M.D.

“I wanted to treat it,” Kuwera says. “We tried both patching therapy and glasses — no surgery at all — and she’s had this incredible response to it. We gave her vision a chance.” Cecilia now wears a patch on her good eye four hours a day to force her weaker left eye to strengthen; she has recovered vision in that eye.

“Children are more resilient than you think,” says Kuwera, who was recently recognized as a Johns Hopkins Service Star, a peer-nominated award for staff members who deliver outstanding patient-centered care, education for students and trainees, and innovative research.

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