A mum has told how she diagnosed her daughter’s rare eye condition and saved her remaining sight – using the flash on her camera phone.
Nadine Clair, 35, didn’t notice anything was wrong with daughter Violet’s eyes until three months ago when she noticed her pupil was clear, and her iris had less colour.
She took a photo of the one-year-old using the flash on her camera phone – lighting up the back of her eyeball – revealing an unusual glow, instead of a ‘healthy’ red.
The mum-of-three googled the ‘glow’ and followed advice to visit her GP, but when she was told to wait five months for a referral, she drove Violet to an eye hospital.
Medics diagnosed Coats’ Disease and discovered Violet was totally blind in her left eye, and needed emergency treatment to save the right.
The rare eye disorder causes the abnormal development of blood vessels behind the retina – which appears as a ‘glow’ under a bright flash of light.
Nadine and husband Daniel, 37, are raising awareness of the “Know the Glow” technique which can indicate at least 20 different eye conditions.
Nadine, a full time mum from Dagenham said: “Everyone alters and edits their photos now. It’s just so easy with the touch of a button.
“I too had edited out the glow before, because I just thought ‘oh it’s like red eye’.
“But after I read online about it I started taking and looking at photo’s I’d recently taken and there it was – photo after photo ‘the glow’ in my baby’s left eye.
“As the disease had progressed so quickly, Violet had unfortunately lost her sight and is now blind in her left eye.
“That saddens me every day, but had we left it for longer than we did, she could have had to have the eye removed, and for that we must be grateful.
“Coats’ is so rare that not many professionals are aware of it.
“Noticing ‘the glow’ along with seeking immediate medical advice from an eye doctor can possibly save a child’s sight or even their life.
“Now I’m just pleading other parents to take the photos, put on the flash, turn off the red eye detector and be aware of ‘the glow’.”
Nadine noticed Violet’s left eye had changed colour from brown to green during her first year, but was advised this was normal for children, so thought nothing of it.
But two months later, in February, the tot was sat under a bright lamp, and the family noticed her iris was almost colourless and her pupil was white.
Nadine searched online for “no iris colour clear pupil” and read about the ‘Know the Glow’ technique.
It advocates using a bright light – like a camera flash – to diagnose eye problems, which are shown as a ‘glow’ in photos.
She booked a next day GP appointment and was given a hospital referral for five months time, so visited an optician who advised she wait for the meeting.
But worried Nadine and husband Daniel, an electrician, drove straight to Moorfields Eye Hospital in London, where specialists diagnosed Leukocoria – the glow in the eye.
Doctors eventually ruled out retinoblastoma – childhood eye cancer – but experts at The Royal London Hospital diagnosed Coats’ Disease.
The cause of the disease is still unknown, but makes the capillaries in the retina dilate and leak, causing blindness, and changes the colour from red to white.
Thanks to Nadine’s quick thinking, doctors gave Violet treatment to stop damage on her left eye and save her right.
“She’s very, very clumsy, but she’s only just started walking after Christmas, so we don’t know if it’s just that,” said Nadine.
“But she’s just so happy and contented. She’s really mischievous.
“It’s so scary to think that mums like me have been photoshopping out that telltale sign of what can be such a devastating disease.
“It’s so second nature to press ‘adjust’ on photos and it takes out that glow because it thinks it’s red eye.
“Just one press of a button and it is gone.”
Nadine has set up the Facebook page ‘Violet’s Glow’.