A clear view for baby Ben

Benjamin Cyrus with his mother Madline and surgeon Dr Justin Mora after the sight-saving surgery. Photo / Michael Craig
Benjamin Cyrus with his mother Madline and surgeon Dr Justin Mora after the sight-saving surgery. Photo / Michael Craig

Little Benjamin Daniel squealed with delight as he looked around after sight-saving surgery.

With the patches removed, the 10-month-old looked up at his mother with a beaming smile - seeing her clearly for the first time.

"He was just so excited," mother Madline Cyrus said. "He was so happy, he smiled and laughed and just jumped up and down, he couldn't stop."

The family realised there was a problem when they spotted a white shadow in Benjamin's eye.

A leading paediatric opthamologist says modern cameras have unwittingly removed a valuable tool in diagnosing cataracts such as Benjamin's.

When a picture is taken of a child and the flashlight turns the eyes red, both eyes should be the same shade of red. If one eye lacks the red in the photograph, or if the red is a different shade between the two eyes, there could be an abnormality.

But double flashes and cameras which eliminate red-eye have taken away one of the tell-tale signs of cataracts and eye cancers.

Dr Justin Mora said New Zealand had screening programmes at birth and in pre-school, but the family photo album was sometimes used to pick up eye abnormalities.

"The red-eye reflect is a useful tool; the technology that removes it has taken one of our little tricks."

Mora said anyone who lacked the red-eye reflect in one eye should have their eyes examined.

In the two-hour operation at Auckland Eye in Remuera for little Benjamin, Mora used microscopic "cutting and sucking" tools to remove the cataracts.

Without the surgery, Benjamin would have been blind within a year.

The visit and urgent surgery was funded by a Canadian Christian charity which flew the family from Vanuatu and organised for an Auckland couple to host the family.

"We have been looked after so well," Benjamin's grandfather Alick Daniel said.

- Herald on Sunday

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