JAMM AQUINO / JAQUINO@STARBULLETIN.COM
Jayden Collins, 7, reads with the assistance of teacher Tracey Fujikawa. Jayden will undergo eye surgery for a detached retina for the sixth time. CLICK FOR LARGE
Boy undergoes retina surgery yet again
The 7-year-old's family is hopeful his difficult condition can be fixed
Jayden Collins, 7, speeds on his Razor scooter around his home in Kapolei. Out of his right eye, he can see his older sister, Jayce Porter, skating on the wave board his neighbors pitched in to buy for him. Out of his left eye, all he can see is fading light.
Jayden, once an all-star player on his T-ball team, was supposed to start football practice this summer. Instead, he will leave for Los Angeles today for two months.
He will be seeing a specialist at one of the nation's top eye institutes at the University of Southern California for his sixth -- and hopefully last -- surgery to repair a detached retina from an injury in January.
"He's excited for the plane ride, but he's not looking forward to another surgery," said Jayden's mother, Joanne Collins, 34. "There are some days when he says, 'I want to be blind. I don't want another surgery.' But we're not going to let a 7-year-old decide his own future. We need this surgery to be it."
JAMM AQUINO / JAQUINO@STARBULLETIN.COM
Jayden Collins, 7, will undergo eye surgery for a detached retina for the sixth time. CLICK FOR LARGE
» An eye condition where light-sensitive tissue detaches, causing vision problems and can lead to blindness.
» It is more common for nearsighted people, those with family history of retinal detachment and among adults 50 and older. It is rare among children, but can result from an eye injury.
» For children, the best way to avoid retinal detachment is to prevent eye injuries. If your child plays sports, have the child wear goggles or other protective gear.
» Visit your eye doctor regularly, especially if you are nearsighted or have family members with detached retinas.
» See a doctor immediately if you notice an increase in stringy specks floating in your vision, light flashes or a dark curtain. The sooner the condition is treated, the better the chances of the retina reattaching.
Source: National Eye Institute
A detached retina is a fairly common eye condition for adults older than 50, but for children, it's rare. In Jayden's case, it has gotten complicated.
The retina is a layer of tissue inside the eye that's sensitive to light, according to the National Eye Institute. When the retina becomes detached, it alters vision, including seeing specks that float around or a dark curtain over their field of vision.
As with Jayden's case, a detached retina can form because of an injury, but is also more common in nearsighted people, those who have had eye surgery or a family history of the condition. Left untreated, it can lead to blindness.
For Jayden, it started on Jan. 27 when he was alone in the family's living room.
"I was watching 'The Suite Life of Zack and Cody' and eating cookies," Jayden said, referring to a popular Disney Channel TV show.
He was also running around, still in his baseball uniform, and tripped, slamming his left eye into the corner of an open glass door of a drawer. The sea-foam colored glass, about a centimeter thick, cracked.
"It sounded like a picture frame was breaking," recalled his mother, who ran over from another room. "He was screaming, covering his eye, and blood was just coming out."
That night, he had emergency eye surgery.
Since then, he has undergone eye surgery every month until the end of May. Doctors inserted a "gas bubble" into his eye, a common treatment to push the retina against the wall of the eye so it reattaches.
They also injected silicone oil into his eye, which is used in certain complicated cases of retinal detachment, to hold the retina in place until it reattaches, according to the Food and Drug Administration.
But these surgeries didn't work for Jayden. Scar tissue built up from his previous surgeries and pulls the retina away from the eye's wall.
"That's extremely rare," said Emily Chew, deputy director of the National Eye Institute's Division of Epidemiology and Clinical Research in Silver Spring, Md. "These cells inside the eye start to grow and cause the retina to detach again. It's a rare complication."
Collins hope doctors from USC's Doheny Eye Institute can help get Jayden's eyesight back to normal.
An eye specialist said it's possible another surgery could work since Jayden can still see light from a flashlight. However, his doctors here told his mother it's harder to perform eye surgery and examinations on children since they tend to squirm and cry.
As the bills mount, friends and family have been helping Collins and her husband support their three other children.
Luckily, Jayden didn't have to repeat the second grade at Kapolei Elementary School since his teacher, Tracey Fujikawa, agreed to tutor him three times a week after school.
"It's part of my job as a teacher to educate and help children," Fujikawa said. "He made it really easy because he had a drive to get better. That's what kept me going."
Jayden still dreams of playing football and kickball during recess. He always asks his mom if he can return to T-ball. She hopes when he returns home as a third-grader, the answer will be "yes."
"If there's a slight chance of him getting his vision back, I say, just try," Collins said. "He's a little kid who didn't get to experience everything in life because of this one thing that happened. It's his eyes. It's too important to lose."