December 23, 2013 Ophthalmology

Seeing Christmas for the First Time

Seeing Christmas for the First Time

Kittens are born with their eyes closed and about 10-14 days after birth the lids open. The eyelids of Frankie, the handsome orange tiger cat pictured here, opened on schedule, but something was wrong. His upper eyelids had not formed correctly.
Are eyelids important?
You probably don’t think much about your eyelids, but they are critical components of good vision. Without functional eyelids, our eyes would become very dry since with each blink, the lids move the tears across the eyeball keeping it moist. The tear film over the eye improves visual acuity. The eyelid also forms a protective cover over the delicate eyeball, which keeps dirt and foreign material out.
Because of his misshapen eyelids, Frankie could not see well and was uncomfortable because the fur on the lids scraped against his delicate eyeball. Because of his disability, Frankie was taken in by Last Hope Animal Rescue and Rehabilitation in Wantagh, NY. The kind folks at Last Hope knew about AMC TO THE RESCUE, a community fund through which specialized healthcare is provided by AMC’s board certified specialists to increase a rescue animal’s chances of finding a ‘forever home.’
New eyelids
A volunteer from Last Hope brought 10 week old Frankie to see Dr. Alexandra van der Woerdt, AMC’s board certified ophthalmologist. She concurred with the diagnosis and recommended eyelid reconstruction once Frankie had grown a bit more. Eight weeks later, Dr. van der Woerdt employed a microsurgery technique to transplant part of Frankie’s lip margin to create new upper eyelids. Surgery was a great success and Frankie was discharged with several tubes of eye ointment and yes, the cone of shame!
Almost as good as new eyelids, a forever home
As soon as he came to Last Hope, Frankie’s photo was posted on their website. To Allison, he looked exactly like the special needs cat she had dreamt about the night before. After work, she and her daughter went to Last Hope to adopt Frankie, but found he was not yet available for adoption. The Last Hope staff allowed Allison to hold Frankie and in a minute, she felt an immediate bond to this tiny creature. Allison’s home became Frankie’s foster home throughout his surgery and recovery. Allison applied ointments to his eyes and warm compresses to his healing lids. When the ok for adoption came, he stayed on at Allison’s, joining another orange boy and a tuxedo in his forever home.
So this Christmas, Frankie will be able to see the twinkling lights and sparkling ornaments on the tree, thanks to the hard work of his rescue group, the skill of his ophthalmologist and the generosity of those who financially support AMC TO THE RESCUE. Because he knows he was given the gift of sight, Frankie has promised not to touch a single glass ball or a china snowflake on the tree. Frankie is just going to look and enjoy seeing Christmas for the first time.
For those with less perfectly behaved cats than Frankie, we suggest you cat proof your Christmas tree.

Tags: animal medical center, ann hohenhaus, cat, eyes, forever home, last hope animal rescue, NYC, opthalmology, pet health, pets, rescue, van der woerdt, veterinarian, veterinary,

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