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Saving Andie's Eyes | Overview

Saving Andie's eyesAndie Ormiston, 3, shown with her mother Kasey, had sight-saving surgery at Boston Children's Hospital.

Seeing Andie Ormiston's sparkling blue eyes and radiant smile, you'd never guess this petite 3-year-old's entry into the world was touch-and-go. Andie, born months premature, weighed less than a quart of milk at birth.

The Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Boston Children's Hospital kept the tiny girl alive while her fragile lungs, heart and digestive system developed. But even as Andie began to breathe and eat on her own, an ominous eye condition threatened permanent blindness.

Like thousands of other preemies every year, she developed retinopathy of prematurity (ROP), which occurs when blood vessels grow out of control over the retina, causing scarring and retinal detachment. A Boston Children's ophthalmologist and ROP expert, Deborah VanderVeen, MD, detected the condition early on. The precise laser surgery Dr. VanderVeen performed saved Andie's sight — she is doing exceptionally well now, and one of her favorite activities is reading picture books with her mother.

Laser surgery can't always remedy ROP, and results vary. That's why a promising new research program at Boston Children's is investigating the ultimate cure — a prevention for ROP that will spare thousands of premature infants from impaired vision. Read more about this research.