WATCH: Three-year-old from Durban inserts her own prosthetic eye

WATCH: Three-year-old from Durban inserts her own prosthetic eye

The heartwarming video showcases the three-year-old child finally getting comfortable with her prosthetic eye.

Lily Bowes

For many parents of three-year-olds, celebrating milestones revolves around moments like the child recognising numbers, shapes, and colours correctly. But, for one young girl from Musgrave, Durban, her parents have celebrated the fact that she is finally comfortable enough to insert her prosthetic eye and shared the moment by posting a video on Facebook.

Three-year-old toddler Lily Bowes was born with persistent hyperplastic primary vitreous (PHPV), which is a rare eye condition that is prone to leading to glaucoma and a shrunken eye.

Lily’s mother, Sheri-Leigh Baillache-Bowes, says that she first noticed what she calls a white mass in Lily’s iris while feeding her when she was only a day old. After further investigation, Lily needed surgery to remove the mass from her eye. However, complications during surgery led to her retina tearing.

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Lily needed nine additional procedures on her eye, including six examinations under anesthesia, to assess the eye so that doctors could rule out cancer and blindness, before eventually being diagnosed with PHPV.

One of the procedures, however, caused her eye to shrink significantly. “Unfortunately prosthetic intervention had to take place otherwise her socket wouldn’t grow at the same pace as her left,” Sheri-Leigh explains.

The mother adds that after seeking advice from specialists, a decision was made that Lily should wear a prosthetic eye covering because her eye had shrunk to such an extent that that the prosthetic eye would fit over the existing eye and eventually stop the socket from shrinking as well. 

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Sheri-Leigh adds that while the family did have the option of having Lily’s eye removed, they opted against it in hopes that future technology would one day be able to recover her eyesight.

“We started off with a conformer to expand the socket in preparation for the prosthetic. It is a transparent shell that looks like a very hard contact lens,” Sheri-Leigh explains. “We put it in her eye and she didn’t tolerate it. My husband would hold her down and my gran would hold her head in place and I would insert the conformer. Can you imagine your baby is crying non-stop? All you want to do is take this thing out.”

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Lily started wearing her prosthetic eye at just eight months old, which fits right over her existing eye. Lily is still able to see through her right eye but Sheri-Leigh admits that she does struggle at times.

Now, Lily has grown comfortable with her prosthetic eye and after a few unsuccessful attempts to insert it in herself, she has finally succeeded. 

“Now that we know that she’s 100% fine to put in her own eye without us around, it just gives us that comfort that she is going to have an absolutely normal life. She will be more independent,” Sheri-Leigh says. “When she looks in the mirror, she doesn’t see anything wrong with herself and that is exactly what I want. I tell her all the time how beautiful and gorgeous she is and so does everybody else.” 

Watch the heartwarming moment here:

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