REAL STORY : Savannah & Emma

REAL STORY : Savannah & Emma

10th Feb 2023

Beautiful Savannah was only 5 days old when she was diagnosed with Persistent Fetal Vasculature and a Congenital Cataract in the left eye. The condition was picked up via her paediatrician newborn check in hospital in Western Australia.

Mum Emma was told that Savannah had no red eye reflex and was referred to Perth Children's Hospital for further testing. At PCH she had an ultrasound on both eyes and from those results she was diagnosed.

The first part of Savannah’s treatment was to have her cataract removed, which had to be done at 8 weeks old.

This gave the family the opportunity to return to Kalgoorlie to enjoy their new born bubble before returning to the city for Savannah’s surgery. The general anaesthetic and cataract removal went well – it had been a large cataract but her overall eye health was good, which was promising to hear.

Emma said that although initially being given the worst-case scenario, so far the challenges they’ve faced have been manageable.

“After about 3 weeks post-surgery we returned again for a check-up and Savannah was fitted with a conformer shell contact lens. This lens was a +20 to match the strength of her right eye. We then faced the battle of learning how to put the lens in and take it out, as we would have to do this each day.”

“This was a very emotional and scary time and we struggled to find our feet. It honestly felt like we weren’t going to be able to do it, but we knew we had to in order for Savannah to have the best chance at vision.”

Along with the lens, Savannah now patches for 3 hours a day. Three hours of awake time, with a 3-month-old baby can be extremely hard between naps, feeding and crying. After 3 days of patching, Savannah was able to consistently meet her 3-hour goal (some days harder than others of course).

“Although each step when we reached it seemed huge and almost impossible to face, Savannah’s condition, her contact lens and her patching is just part of our everyday now, just like changing a nappy or having a bath,” said Emma.

“Savannah doesn’t know any different, we are extremely fortunate that her diagnosis was picked up from only a few days old, therefore all of the hurdles have been more of a challenge for us than her!”

“We are aware that as she gets older, things like patching and lens removal may get a little more challenging, but we can only hope that she will be used to it by then!”

“We are told every condition of PFV is very different… but our end goal for Savannah’s vision is to be able to see the top letter on an eye test chart at the optometrist. Each appointment we are given more of an idea as her eye grows and develops so we just keep working hard on her patching!”

In the meantime, Savannah is loving the bath, swimming in the pool, and loves to see her parents first thing in the morning (that’s when they get the biggest smiles from her). She loves to explore and is a very inquisitive baby. 

Emma has started an Instagram account to spread the word about PFV and share Savannah's story.