When Nicole Martinez and her fiancé, Kalani Prior, went in for Martinez's 34-week ultrasound appointment, they were saddened to learn that their unborn baby boy had not developed his left eye.
Other than the undeveloped left eye, the couple thought that their child was completely healthy and would be able to have partial vision with his right eye in tact. But then baby Jackson Prior was born just weeks later on April 9th, and the doctor noticed right away that Jackson's right eye had failed to form completely, which meant the newborn baby was totally blind.
Doctors officially classified Jackson's conditions as anophthalmia and microphthalmia. Anophthalmia is when one or both eyes are non-existent at birth. This is what happened to Jackson's left eye. Microphthalmia means that one or both eyes are abnormally small or underdeveloped, which occurred with his right eye.
People learned straight from the National Eye Institute that sadly, there is no current treatment or any way to restore vision, or to create "new eyes" which would be functional via transplant for either disorder.
Martinez and Prior are considering "plastic conformers", which are prosthetics that will be painted to match traditional-looking eyes. But Martinez said that at this point, it's unknown if Jackson's left eye even has a socket, which is what the confirmer will need to be attached to. She said that it's just a matter of waiting to see how the baby's skull develops before they will know if conformers are even an option for Jackson.
Whatever the outcome, Martinez and Prior are committed to giving Jackson every available opportunity, and to make sure that he leads a normal life - "as normal as possible," Martinez said. "You don't ever want your kid to be the one that every parent or child is staring at," she added.
Caring for a blind baby will no doubt create unique challenges that these new parents never could have imagined, but Jackson's mommy and daddy are prepared. Martinez is already getting ready to leave her job in order to be able to care for her baby full-time. Both Martinez and Prior have already received guidance from the New Mexico School for the Blind and Visually Impaired for resources. Soon, the parents will learn to read braille so that they are able to help Jackson learn to read as he gets older. Great teamwork from this little family!
Martinez and Prior are both grateful to the community for the love and support that they have received.
“Before this had happened, I never really thought that babies could be born without eyes,” she says. “You know some people are blind, but you don’t understand the story of how they became blind. Now we’re a part of a whole different community that has always been there. It’s nice knowing there’s such a community there willing to support us”.
Welcome to the world, Jackson! And congratulations to Nicole Martinez and Kalani Prior on their adorable baby boy!
We wish this family all the best!