The Friday after Thanksgiving 2015, I put my 2 boys (ages 4 and 2) in matching Christmas pajamas and took their picture in front of the Christmas tree. I usually do not use a flash, but somehow it was on this time and I immediately saw a white/yellow “Glow” in my 2-year-old, Landon’s, left eye. I remembered a story I read about the flash of a camera saving a little boy’s life and immediately knew something was not right. My husband and I spent the entire weekend researching and taking many more pictures, and “The Glow” appeared every time. After reaching out to Brian Shaw from Baylor University, we downloaded the free app he created, CRADLE, and discovered the glow had been in pictures as far back as March 2015. Monday morning we went to our pediatrician. After noticing something on the retina during a Red Reflex Test, he referred us to a pediatric ophthalmologist. The ophthalmologist told us Landon had either Retinoblastoma or Coats’ Disease and referred us to a retina specialist. We were terrified! By Wednesday, Landon was diagnosed with Coats’ Disease and six days later underwent his first surgery and laser treatment to hopefully help restore some vision in his eye. Dr. Rand Spencer did a wonderful job with Landon’s surgery at Cook Children’s Medical Center in Ft. Worth, TX. It’s thanks to similar stories being told on social media that we were able to catch the Coats’ Disease early. I encourage anyone who reads this to go take pictures of the children in their lives using a flash. You just never know. It could save their life. Many Blessings to you all this Christmas.
Update: July 29, 2019
Landon is now 6 and will be going into first grade. Over the past 4 years he has had 2 laser treatments and steroid injections to treat the Coats Disease and I am happy to report that it has been stable for 3 years now! He did develop glaucoma and a cataract as a side effect from the treatments. About a year and a half ago he had another successful surgery to fix those problems and has been doing great since then. His eye is very sensitive to light so he is always rocking his sunglasses when outside. The next surgery on the horizon will be to straighten out his left eye since it is turning out. He continues to only have limited peripheral vision in his left eye, but sees perfectly out of his right eye. This causes difficulty with depth perception. Other than that, he is a very typical 6 year old boy. He is doing great in school and recently started piano lessons!