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Toddler sees clearly for the first time after undergoing surgery to remove CATARACTS from his eyes

This is the adorable moment a toddler beamed with joy after being able to see his father clearly for the first time.

One-year-old Theo Bennett, who was born with cataracts in his eyes, lit up as soon as his new glasses were placed on his head following surgery to fix his sight. 

Sweet footage showed Theo trying to cuddle father Joe, 37, before taking in his surroundings and playing with a rubber duck.

Little Theo, from Wilberfoss, near York, suffers from congenital cataracts in both eyes which make his sight blurry and hazy.

Theo waiting for cataract surgery with mother Lois and father Joe at Leeds General Infirmary in October last year

Little Theo Bennett (pictured after surgery), one, was born with cataracts in his eyes which made his sight blurry and hazy

Little Theo Bennett (pictured after surgery), one, was born with cataracts in his eyes which made his sight blurry and hazy 

But he's now able to see clearly with his new glasses following the surgery to have artificial lenses fitted

But he’s now able to see clearly with his new glasses following the surgery to have artificial lenses fitted

They occur when the lens – a small transparent disc inside the eye that helps to focus light – becomes cloudy.

The condition usually develops as people age but affects around one in 3,000 children.

About a third of cataracts do not have any cause and are not linked with any other disease or condition.

In some cases they can be linked with other conditions in the eye, eye trauma, or a baby being affected by an infection whilst developing in the womb.

Concerns were first raised when Theo’s mother Lois, 35, spotted a clouding in both of his eyes aged six months.

Theo underwent surgery to have the cataracts removed and both faulty lenses replaced with artificial ones during a five-hour operation at Leeds General Infirmary in October last year.

He was then fitted with a pair of corrective glasses around two weeks later in November which was captured on film.

A year later Theo, now 18-months-old, is running around with his older brothers, climbing on objects, laughing, racing down slides and chasing the family kittens.

A year after surgery Theo, now 18-months-old, is running around with his older brothers, Noah, aged eight and Toby (pictured on a family walk), aged seven, climbing on objects, laughing, and racing down slides

A year after surgery Theo, now 18-months-old, is running around with his older brothers, Noah, aged eight and Toby (pictured on a family walk), aged seven, climbing on objects, laughing, and racing down slides

His father (pictured together) said his son has been living in a shroud of darkness but it's now like the 'curtains had been opened' to the world

His father (pictured together) said his son has been living in a shroud of darkness but it’s now like the ‘curtains had been opened’ to the world

The youngster is pictured after his first surgery with a patch over his right eye to let it heal

The youngster is pictured after his first surgery with a patch over his right eye to let it heal

His father said his son has been living in a shroud of darkness but it’s now like the ‘curtains had been opened’ to the world.

He added: ‘When he first had the surgery, the day after when his vision was clearer, even then you could tell something was a bit different

WHAT ARE CATARACTS?

The Queen had an eye problem in 2016 that left her right one bloodshot

The Queen had an eye problem in 2016 that left her right one bloodshot

Cataracts occur when the lens – a small transparent disc inside the eye that helps to focus light – becomes cloudy.

The patches gradually become bigger over time, according to the NHS, and can lead to blurry vision and, in some cases, blindness. 

Cataracts affect around half of over-65 in the UK. Some 24 million adults aged over 40 in the US suffer, according to figures. 

In children they are much less common, with around one in 3,000 being born with them or developing them in childhood.

The Royal College of Ophthalmologists last year warned that due to a rapidly ageing population, the number of required cataract operations is expected to jump by 50 per cent over the next 20 years.

Yet in his new book ‘The Complete Patient’s Guide to Cataract Surgery’, leading eye surgeon David Allamby claimed there simply will not be enough specialists to cope with the soaring demand.

He said around 1,300 NHS surgeons perform 389,000 operations a year. However, by 2035 more than 2,000 medics will be needed to do around 583,500 procedures annually.  

People are more at risk if they have: diabetes, suffered an eye injury, take certain medications or have other eye conditions.

Symptoms normally develop very slowly and include being more sensitive to light and thinking everything looks washed out. 

Cataracts can be removed by surgery and replaced with an artificial lens. No other treatment is available. 

The Mail has long campaigned against the current unfair system for surgery in the UK, which were a postcode lottery until the health watchdog issued guidelines last August to tackle problem, which had led to many sufferers being denied the straightforward 30-minute operations.

‘When he put the glasses on he looked at me with a big smile and you could see him looking around, it melts your heart because you think to yourself ‘he can actually see now’.

‘It was amazing, we took him out that afternoon and it was apparent that he was looking at the world around him like he’d never really done before.

‘Now, we have this little boy who is legging it around the living room, chasing the kittens and when we go to the play park he absolutely loves the slide.

‘It is just wonderful to see Theo beaming and smiling again, from watching him struggle to where he is now we have seen such a change in him.

‘We had been blindly been going on for seven months thinking everything was fine with our new baby but his world had been getting darker and darker.

‘His world was closing in and it was like the curtains have been opened.’

Theo’s mother Lois, a midwife at York District Hospital, first spotted the cataracts  in September last year.

She spotted them when Theo was lying flat in his cot and decided to film it to show her husband.

Mr Bennett added: ‘It was when my wife was playing with him, he was lying on his back. She noticed something in his eyes so videoed it.

‘Especially when it was darker, you could see his pupils would dilate and there was a cloudiness in the middle, almost like when you see photos of a nebula and that kind of wispiness.

‘We started thinking about what could it be. There are obviously rare cancers that newborn babies get in their eyes, so initially, it was a lot of concern and your mind goes to the worst-case scenario.

‘You think to yourself, what if we had not picked it up? What would he be doing now?

‘If we were at this time now and it had not been picked up it would be safe he would be severely visually impaired.’

Consultant eye surgeon, Vernon Long, who has been treating Theo, said: ‘I am very happy that Theo’s vision has improved and we are all delighted to be involved in his care.

‘Here at St James’s, we have a very good clinical back up for these type of cases which are quite rare.’

Theo underwent a second surgery since in June this year to clean cells that have stuck to the artificial lenses.

It’s hoped that he will only need the corrective glasses for reading when his vision is fully developed.

His parents, who have two other sons – Noah, aged eight and Toby, aged seven – say they want to repay the Leeds hospitals for their care.

Father Joe is now gearing up to cycle the UCI World Championships this month to raise money for charity Leeds Cares which supports Leeds Teaching Hospitals.

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Read more at DailyMail.co.uk


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