A mum has spoken of the terrifying moment her three-year-old daughter woke up one morning and said: “Mummy my eyes have stopped working”.
Concerned Natalie Wild immediately rushed little Tilly to the emergency department at Sheffield Children’s Hopsital for urgent treatment.
Doctors examining the youngster noticed an issue with her left eye and shortly afterwards it was confirmed she had cataracts in both eyes.
A cataract is a clouding of the lens of the eye, which is common in old people but very rare in children. The condition can cause blindness if left untreated.
Tilly, from Sheffield, South Yorks., had the first cataract removed in December last year and the second one taken out in March.
Now, ten weeks later, the toddler is doing “fantastically well” as she gets used to seeing the world through a special pair of glasses she has to wear.
Natalie has paid tribute to the “amazing” staff at Sheffield Children’s hospital for the “phenomenal” treatment her daughter received.
She said: “The worry of Tilly losing her vision has made us aware of how skilfully and tirelessly the staff have worked to ensure her eyesight is the best it can be.
“They have made sure Tilly has the best possible chance of living life to her full potential and we will always be indebted to them and words cannot express how grateful we are.”
Natalie can still vividly recall the moment in October when her daughter said something was wrong.
She said: “Tilly woke up one day screaming ‘mummy my eyes have stopped working, I can’t see you’.
“She also said that the light was hurting her eyes.
“We went to the Emergency Department at Sheffield Children’s Hospital. From the minute we walked in, they were amazing.”
Not long after their arrival Tilly was transferred to the eye department and diagnosed with cataracts in both eyes.
Natalie said: “Both of the doctors who saw us stayed well past the end of the clinic to see Tilly and make sure we were cared for.”
The doctors arranged a CT scan to rule out a brain tumour, which thankfully came back all clear at around 4am the next morning.
Natalie said the speed at which everyone worked was “phenomenal”.
She added: “Over the first few visits Tilly was very nervous and often uncooperative, so the team came up with lots of new ways to test her vision and get the best out of her every time.
“They also go to great effort to make sure she is looked after by the same team each time so they can build up a relationship.”
In December, Tilly had the first of her cataracts removed and after nine weeks of regular check-ups to monitor the healing, had 20/20 vision in her left eye.
The operation to remove the second cataract then followed in March.
Natalie said: “The coronavirus pandemic hit two weeks later, and we’ve still been visiting Sheffield Children’s for check-ups.
“The staff have made every effort to ensure we feel safe and we’ve also had regular phone calls to ensure we are supported at every turn, with Tilly’s health and well-being paramount.”
In May, The Children’s Hospital Charity launched something called ‘Theo’s 30 in 30 challenge’ to encourage supporters to raise £30 in 30 days.
Among those to take on the challenge was Tilly, who raised £2,255 to thank the eye department at Sheffield Children’s Hospital.
Natalie said: “Tilly has done really well. As a family, we just wanted to say a huge thank you to every member of the Eye Department for everything they have done.”
Cheryl Davidson, Events Fundraising Manager at The Children’s Hospital Charity added: “It’s so moving to hear about Tilly’s journey over the past few months and the excellent care she received at our hospital.
“We continue to wish Tilly all the best in her treatment and we would like to say a huge, heartfelt thank you to her and everyone who supported her amazing fundraising.”
To sign up to Theo’s 30 in 30 challenge, visit: https://www.tchc.org.uk/events/theos-30-in-30.html