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Working Together to Save a Child's Sight

Feb 22, 2017, 15:23 PM by Sansum Clinic
Naomi Perreault and Family
In 2014, Jeannette & John Perreault faced unthinkable tragedy when their 3-year-old daughter Naomi was accidentally struck by a board while playing with her siblings on the couple’s Santa Ynez property. A nail in the board had penetrated and ruptured Naomi’s right eye. Naomi was rushed to Santa Ynez Valley Cottage Hospital where she was stabilized and sent by ambulance to Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital. There, three teams of highly trained specialists were assembled to diagnose and treat her injuries.

Within eight hours after the incident Naomi’s surgery for emergency repair to her eye was complete. Sansum Clinic pediatric ophthalmology specialist Dr. Mark Silverberg had been called in to perform the delicate surgery to try to save Naomi’s eye and maybe her sight.

The day after the successful surgery to repair her ruptured globe, Naomi began follow up appointments with Dr. Silverberg and the retina specialists at the new Sansum Clinic Elings Eye Center at the Sansum Clinic Foothill Medical & Surgical Center. Dr. Silverberg’s team consists of pediatric eye care specialists who are uniquely trained to deal with routine and serious eye conditions in children.

Thorough examinations revealed that Naomi had developed endophthalmitis, a potentially devastating infection caused by the trauma, which would again threaten the sight in her injured eye. Dr. Silverberg determined the best course of action was to remove the infected lens and a second surgery was performed using the latest non invasive laser surgical techniques.

Dr. Silverberg and his team were successful in their fight to save Naomi’s sight and with specialized glasses to compensate for her missing lens, Naomi now has functional vision in both eyes and at 4 years old, she is a happy playful child who sees life perhaps a little differently than most children her age.

Children’s eyes, like all of their parts, are still growing and changing until they are at least 7 or 8 years of age. As she grows, Naomi’s treatments will likely continue and her eyesight should improve into adulthood. Even at such a young age, Naomi is fully aware of her accident and welcomes her therapy and recovery. She now looks forward to her visits with Dr. Silverberg where she learns new activities and techniques to strengthen her eye muscles and help her to compensate for loss of normal depth perception. Many of these therapies are in the form of games that she can play with her four siblings and her parents, who all enthusiastically participate in her recovery.

Naomi also sees optometrist Dr. Brett Simon at the Sansum Clinic Optometry Department where she was fitted with special contact lenses designed to improve her sight even more. She began practicing on a special doll with closing eyes, so that she could develop the dexterity that she needs to insert the contacts.

When asked about how access to specialized pediatric care has helped her daughter and her family through this trauma, Jeannette said, “Naomi loves them. Everyone at Dr. Silverberg’s office and Sansum Clinic has just been so completely supportive, and when you combine that with the skill level that I have witnessed…” she paused and her eyes welled up a bit before finishing. “Well, they’re just the best doctors in the entire world.”

Sansum Clinic offers specialized eye care for children and adults ranging from eye exams and corrective lenses to the diagnosis and treatment of serious eye injuries and sight-related conditions.

For an appointment with a pediatric eye specialist contact the Ophthalmology Department at Elings Eye Center at Sansum Clinic at (805) 681-8950. For an eye exam contact our Optometry Department at (805) 681-8980.