Tuesday, August 11, 2009

John Michael's eye appt & Brushfield Spots

Today was John Michael's 2nd eye exam with his pediatric ophthalmologist, Dr. Satterfield. She also specializes in strabismus, or crossed eyes, which John Michael doesn't have, but if you have questions about it, she has a website. www.satterfieldmd.com

Thankfully, the visit was quick and efficient and John Michael cooperated very well to the different lights and lenses flashed before his eyes.
She noted that he still has a slight astigmatism in one eye, but it is milder than last year. So, although he may need glasses at some point in his life as do many children with Down syndrome, his vision is great and he won't need to visit her for two years. Hurray!

I've always been struck by John Michael's eyes. Last year at our first eye appointment, I learned that John Michael has Brushfield Spots. I'd first heard of them in Jennifer Graf Groneberg's book Road Map to Holland.

From Wikipedia, "Brushfield spots are small white or grayish/brown spots on the periphery of the iris in the human eye due to aggregation of connective tissue, a normal iris element. These spots are normal in children but are also a feature of the chromosomal disorder Down syndrome. They occur in 35-78% of newborn infants with Down syndrome.[1] They are much more likely to occur in Down syndrome children of the Caucasian race than children of Asian heritage.[2] Brushfield spots are named after the physician, Thomas Brushfield, who first described them in his 1924 M.D. thesis.[3]"

I was looking at the sources used to come up with this short definition. Source #3 comes from Hugh R.E. Wallis' The Significance of Brushfield's Spots in the Diagnosis of Mongolism in Infancy, 1951. There's that word... "Mongolism." Man, that bugs me! Every now and then I still hear the word Mongoloid. That's another word that needs to go.

I even read that Dr. Down himself classified our children as "Mongoloid Idiots". If he were still alive, I think the Down syndrome community would have something to say about that! We'd be sending emails, calling and correcting him. If he could just see our children and adults with Down syndrome now, he'd be amazed at how far they've come... and he'd be busy doing a whole bunch of re-writing!

This photo, above, is one of my favorites taken recently at the water spray park that really show off John Michael's Brushfield Spots. There are so many wonderfully unique things about John Michael, but his eyes truly transport me sometimes to another place. A beautiful, peaceful place. I call it heaven.

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  1. happy it went so well. He does have such beautiful eyes!

  2. He is a little slice of heaven....and so full of personality! I loved meeting and getting to spend time with both of you at the convention and hope we'll all be able to get together again and again over the years to come.

  3. Yeah - no glasses for now! Not that glasses are that big of a deal - I am fairly certain that all of my children, Ds and typical, will have to wear glasses at some point in their life based on the poor eyesight history in my family. I had to start wearing glasses when I was about 8 -- but probably needed them well before that! :)
    And - I get lost in Anna's eye's also. Hers, like John Michael's, are a deep blue with scattered brushfield spots. They are quite mesmerizing. That is a great pic of John Michael's =)

  4. I remember reading about that somewhere when Sam was first born, he has them as well and I love them. Many people comment on them and how cool they are. He is such a sweetie!!

  5. I have a 2 year old son with DS. I too get lost in his beautiful eyes. I call them "Hints of Heaven." It's funny, the thing that makes him look "different" is my favorite thing about him!! He is such a blessing!

  6. Luke has those spots too :) His paed said they made his eyes sparkle, and it was so nice to hear a professional being so positive. I have always thought of them that way ever since.

  7. Glad the appointment went so well! He does have gorgeous eyes! I've never checked Justin's eyes... I'll have to do that in the morning! Honestly... never heard of it!

  8. My Sammy has them too! Glad all is well!

  9. Monica,

    Thanks for this post. His eyes are beautiful. Coco is going for her eye exan tomorrow. We hope all turns out as well for her as it did for John Michael. She also has beautiful blue eyes (my only blue eyed baby) and brushfield spots.


  10. Hooray for a good appointment...those are the best!!

  11. His eyes are entrancing! Beautiful!
    And I'm so glad his vision is good!

    As far as "mongoloid idiots", that was the correct medical terminology for the time. The terms idiot, moron and imbecile were the actual words used to describe individuals within certain IQ ranges. Today we have replaced them with "educable", "trainable" and "profound". Just as "idiot" has been corrupted over the years, the word "retarded" (originally a medical term as well) has done the same.

    Unfortunately, I think that any new word brought into the lexicon will also be corrupted into derogatory slang. I do not use words like "idiot" because to me they are exactly the same as "retarded".

    Today I'm sure Dr. Down would have said, "A child with developmental delay secondary to Trisomy 21".

  12. Beth, Thank you for your comments and insight on the words formerly used to describe our children w/ Ds. I understand and agree with what you're saying... it's still hard to see those words sometimes. Monica