On Wednesday Tommy had an appointment to see Dr. Luchansky, a pediatric ophthalmologist at the Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh. He handles Tommy's contacts and we were there to make sure everything was going well.
In the waiting room.
This had to be one of our quickest appointments. I usually have to get myself mentally prepared for any appointment at CHOP because it's always busy and there's always a wait. That's not easy with a busy guy like Tommy, so I come prepared with snacks, toys and his iPad.
The doctor examined Tom's eyes and found that his right contact was still in and the left was out. That's what we thought. Tom's right eye gives him much more information than his left eye. When his contact is in the right eye he keeps his eyes open much more.
Waiting for the doc.
With Tom's eyes it can be very difficult to tell if his contact is in his eye or not. Aphakic contacts are like a big, thick version of a regular soft contact. They are clear so it's very difficult to see them. Also, Tom has had many eye surgeries so the surface of his eyes is irregular. His glaucoma surgeries especially changed his eyes and left scar tissue that makes it very hard see a contact on his eye. His doctors use a slit lamp (a low-power microscope with a high-intensity light source) to get a more accurate view of Tom's eyes.
He popped the contact we found back in and used the slit lamp again to make sure it was placed correctly in his eye. It was and we were free to go. Putting the contact in was the hardest part for Tom, even though it was very quick. Dr. Luchansky is good with contacts! Tom layed on my lap and was very cooperative during his eye exam.
A little meditation before his exam.
We don't take Tom's contacts out ourselves, though many parents do. His eyes are examined every 2-3 months by his doctors and we give him daily glaucoma drops. Due to Tom's small eyes (microphthalmia) it is quite difficult to get contacts in and out, and the irregular surface of Tom's eyes makes it difficult to even be sure his contacts are in. I don't have my own slit lamp:) We go by his behavior. He keeps his eyes open much more if his contacts are in his eyes. It's a very noticable difference. The contacts cause him to use his eyes and if he's getting some benefit from them we will continue to provide him with contacts. If he never opened his eyes we wouldn't bother.
Usually, we are lucky enough to find the contact lenses when they fall out. I have found them in his bed and on the floor and even stuck to a piece of popcorn in his snack bowl once. I save the contacts in a case to see if they are in good shape and can go back in. Usually the doctor decides they are.
These contacts aren't cheap. They cost about $180.00 per lens and that's me buying them myself. It's $250.00 per lens if I buy them through his doctor. This is not covered by insurance even though these contacts are considered a prosthesis because they are taking the place of his natural lens. The rules of insurance baffle me.
The good news is that Tom's contacts are in, our appointment was quick, and we didn't spend four plus hours at the hospital for one appointment! Success.