The Eye Center Helps St. Jude Patient Read Again Through Technology

Eleven-year-old Isaiah Travers has an infectious laugh and remarkable attitude. It is hard not to smile as he giggles and cheers during a fitting for new glasses that will allow him to see after almost a year of lost vision.

Isaiah recently came to The Eye Center at Southern College of Optometry after being referred by a friend whose husband works at SCO. Isaiah experienced total vision loss after his second surgery to treat Craniopharyngioma, a benign tumor that develops near the pituitary gland and often damages the optic nerve or causes vision loss. Isaiah is currently being treated at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, where he has undergone seven surgeries, four procedures, and 31 radiation treatments.

Isaiah's mom, Maggie, said that doctors weren't sure if his vision would ever return. She explained that he only has light detection in his left eye and tunnel vision in his right eye. Isaiah cannot use peripheral vision in either eye at all, so he only sees from the center of his eye. The little vision he does have reads 20/400 on vision tests.

"It has affected every aspect of his life, his coordination, balance and his ability to do everyday activities, like watching TV with the family, eating, or playing with his friends," Maggie said.

In a recent visit to The Eye Center, Isaiah was given a portable Electronic Magnifier, also known as a CCTV, for reading. The camera-sized device allows him to place it on top of text and magnify it several times larger so he can read it. The device also allows him to view text using different contrasts. Because Isaiah reads best if the text is white on a black background, he can adjust the contrast to his liking.

Isaiah was also given magnifiers to take home. The magnifiers are glasses that are designed to help him see things from a distance, such as when he is watching TV or looking at objects from across the room.

Isaiah said he's most excited about being able to read again. He can now resume reading his two favorite books – The Magic Tree House and Nate the Great.

Best of all, according to Isaiah: "I can also play kickball during game time at Awana," a youth group program at his church.

His mother noted that she is most looking forward to her son regaining some of his independence.

"He has difficulty participating in things most people take for granted, such as following the readings in Sunday school class and doing his school work. These devices will allow him to be able to read along with his peers, and participate in everyday activities."

She added, "This will be life-changing for Isaiah. We're so grateful for this technology, and how it will impact his daily life."

Maggie is encouraging St. Jude to partner with The Eye Center to help other children who need low vision devices. Meanwhile, she intends to join several dozen other mothers of children like Isaiah by shaving her head to show their support. The Commercial Appeal recently ran an article about her effort.

Drs. Sharon Lee and Reena Lepine work with Isaiah Travers as he learns how to use a low vision assistive device.
Posted by Erin Jaffe at 1:06 PM

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