Nicole Abbott – Seeing Better

Nicole Abbott is Jayde’s Mum

Jayde, the youngest of my three daughters, was born with micro-ophthalmia of her left eye. Her right eye had a growth on the top which they called a staphyloma. They removed the lens, cornea and iris from this eye and she had lots more surgery including a corneal transplant. But after a while, that eye stopped growing too.

When I was pregnant with her, I felt something was wrong. My friend told me to always trust my feelings, so I went to the doctor. They kept saying they were going to induce me for about five weeks before Jayde arrived, but they never did. When she was born, she was very small and I thought she didn’t have an eye. They said everything was okay, but they took her from me and kept her overnight in the nursery. When they brought her back the next morning, I could see a bubble on her other eye.

A doctor told me that my baby’s prognosis wasn’t good. When I asked if he meant she’d be blind, he said he didn’t mean that, and repeated that her prognosis was very poor. Then they just sent me home. I didn’t know if she’d be blind, deaf or if she would die.

As it turned out, Jayde doesn’t have any other complications that can go with micro-ophthalmia.

Jayde wears two prostheses, and she hasn’t had her eyes enucleated. They found that she actually had some sight in her left eye. So Paul was very clever and made a shell with a clear bit in the middle to let the light in.

The amazing thing is that Jayde can see better when the prosthesis is in. I think it’s because it acts like a lens and magnifies things.

Because Jayde has had her artificial eyes since she was about five or six months old, she hasn’t known any different. We never had the problem of her pulling them out. And the great thing has been that her facial development has been normal. I was really lucky because I had a great doctor who insisted she get artificial eyes straight away, that it was better to get them early.

Our funniest story was when Jayde was about eighteen months old. Her Dad took her to a friend’s house where a whole lot of men were watching rugby. When he got there, he said to the group, ‘Oh no, Jayde’s lost an eye’. One man didn’t know Jayde had prosthetics and he panicked, asking if they needed to get her to the hospital. Jayde’s Dad replied calmly that they just had to look for the eye. This poor guy thought he was looking for an eyeball.

Kids at school stare at Jayde sometimes. Tiani, her sister, picks her up from her pre-primary class after school, which is where she notices the staring. Tiani hates it, but Jayde doesn’t seem to care.

Jayde can see colours and make out some shapes. She loves dancing, swimming, and has lots of nice friends at school.

Jayde gets around with Miss Candy, her pink and green cane. Miss Candy replaced Miss Polly when she got too small. She is quite hard on her canes, they often get bent. Miss Candy is already bent and she hasn’t been on the scene for long.

Krystal, Jayde’s eldest sister, likes using her cane. Once when we were in Queensland, Krystal took off ahead of us, using Jayde’s cane. A car stopped for her because they thought she was blind, but it was clear they couldn’t understand why she was carrying such a small cane.