In each photo of her three young children, Second Lady of Pennsylvania Gisele Fetterman noticed a pattern.
“I saw a consistency, red eyes in both my boys, but in her I noticed one red eye and one yellow eye,” Fetterman saod.
One of Grace Fetterman’s eyes had a yellow glow. At the time, Gisele didn’t know what it meant, so she called a local doctor.
“He said to pull her out of school immediately,” she recalled. “I learned in her case it was Coats Disease, but in many cases, it’s cancer or a tumor. She would have lost her eyesight completely in one eye.”
“Coats Disease is a rare eye disease caused by abnormal development of the blood vessels of the retina,” said Dr. Erica Beaver, an optometrist with Premier Eye Care.
For 8-year-old Grace, wearing glasses corrected the issue. She no longer has to wear them but goes in every six months for check-ups. The Fetterman’s are sharing Grace’s story so other families ‘know the glow.
According to the CDC, less than 15% of preschool kids get an eye exam but childhood exams are key to detecting eye issues.
Beaver says babies should have their first eye exam between six and 12 months old, when the eyes are starting to develop, so issues with the eye or diseases like Coats can be detected.
After the initial exam, as long as everything is healthy, the next eye exam should be scheduled between ages 3 and 5 then once every 1 to 2 years after.
“If the child is complaining about vision or pain in the eye or headaches, get them checked,” said Beaver. “Parents can also look for squinting, closing one eye or tilting their head to see more clearly.”
Eye screenings done at school or at the pediatrician’s office are not the same as an in-office eye exam, Beaver says. Those are vision screenings for distance or near vision, not a look at the health of the eye.