Know the White Glow: An Early-Childhood Vision Concern & How To Catch It #Parenting

This past Fall, my husband, kids and I went on a long road trip to Yellowstone National Park.  We bought a new tent trailer, packed up the gear, the kids and our dog Nova and hit the road.  We had an amazing time.  While there, of course we took our fair share of obligatory pictures -- of the landscape, the activities we participated in, and of the kids in our fancy new trailer.  (Up until then when out anywhere besides our cabin, we'd been tenting!) 

It was at this time we noticed something strange about the pictures of our handsome Little Man.  Since we took several photos at night, we began noticing that when the flash caused red-eye on our daughter, our son would always have one eye -- his left eye -- glowing white.  My husband had seen something about this on TV, and I remember my daughter's optometrist warning me to look out for that in any of my children's photos.  It can mean some pretty scary things, including a cancer called Retinoblastoma, or Coats Disease which is an eye disorder involving abnormal development (and ultimately deterioration) of the blood vessels of the retina.  

At first, we thought it might have to do with the flash on my husband's iPhone.  But we took more pictures, and more pictures with a different camera.  At this point it was obvious:  No matter what Little Man was up to, the angle we took the photo at or how well he was sitting still, his left eye always had the same white glow.  And now we were scared.

Google is not your friend when something like this happens.  While we were thankful that we had noticed it, we had several long weeks to wait before we were able to get in to our Pediatric Optometrist.  As a Mom, you can't help but fear the worst -- Even while hoping and praying for the best.  I read up on the white glow and the things I was finding were not things I wanted to read.  

When we took our kids in to get checked, I was sitting on pins and needles.  Our son did amazing.  He sat through all of the tests, answering the questions about what he could see as best as his little 2 year old vocabulary would allow.  He let my husband hold him while he was given eye drops, and let our eye doctor look into his retinas to see what was really going on.  And finally, we had our answer.  Of all the possibilities when something like this happens, this one was the best.  His vision in his left eye is completely unbalanced from his right, and he does need glasses.  His eye is in danger of going "lazy."  No, we're not happy about it.  It makes me sad that my son has to wear glasses at such a young age, and that we are having to fight to improve his vision.  But we are so, so thankful that it's nothing worse.  And we're thankful that we caught this problem early, as they say the earlier the better.  

So the moral of my story?  Please, pay attention when you take pictures of your kids!  If you see something like this, have it looked at immediately, because you never know exactly what it could be.  And even if it is something like what my son has, your best bet is to catch it in Early Childhood and get it taken care of.  You may be able to save your child's vision.  Do check out The Children's Hospital of Los Angeles KNOW THE GLOW for more information on the white glow.  And please book an appointment to have your children's eyes checked, as soon as they are able to recognize and communicate basic shapes, letters, animals, etc.  Even earlier if you are noticing a problem.

With that... Here's a picture of my little guy in his adorable new specs, right after he got them.  Almost a Harry Potter lookalike, no?  :)