The “beautiful big blue eyes” that everyone praised in a baby turned out to be a sign of a blindness-causing ailment.
When Aretria Bice, her daughter, was born with large blue eyes—a characteristic no one else in the family shared—Louise Bice, 34, was astounded.
The little girl would receive compliments about her “beautiful” eyes “six or seven times every day” from complete strangers, which Louise cherished.
However, Aretria’s baby blue eye began to become “milky” at the age of six months, in May 2023, and any light made the infant cry in agony.
Louise and her partner, chartered accountant Connor Bice, 29, speculated that their smallest child may have accidentally injured her eye with a toy.
However, the family was informed that Aretria, who is now 10 months old, suffers from severe bilateral congenital glaucoma, a hereditary disorder that places intense and escalating pressure on the optic nerve.
She actually needed immediate surgery because of her beloved huge eyes.
At Birmingham Children’s Hospital, little Aretria underwent a four-hour procedure in June to relieve the pressure, but subsequent tests revealed that it had been unsuccessful.
Even though the child has already lost virtually all of the vision in one eye, she underwent a second surgery in August, and her parents are awaiting the findings.
Mum Louise wants to caution other parents not to assume huge eyes are “beautiful” when they could be a sign of something more serious and to look for the signs.
In Mansfield, Nottinghamshire, a stay-at-home mother named Louise stated, “I never imagined Ari’s huge, gorgeous eyes to be a bad thing.
“One day, all of a sudden, her eye began to fog over; a minute later, it was completely different.
“I discovered she had already lost some vision in both of her eyes after horrifying tests were performed on her by specialists.
“She only has 5% vision left in her right eye after two surgeries, so we still don’t know what will happen.
“She is in excruciating agony, and I’m not sure if she can handle another surgery.
“I simply think she might not be blind in one eye right now if we had been able to get this diagnosed before the pressure went out of control.
“We might have figured it out if someone had said she had weird big eyes instead of cute eyes,”
When Aretria was born on October 20, 2022, her wide eyes attracted a lot of praise from family and friends.
Her parents didn’t even bat an eye when they affectionately compared their young daughter to a cartoon bug.
Nobody indicated any hazards, not even doctors or health visitors thought they were delicious.
However, on May 20, Louise made a quick trip to the store, and when she came back 15 minutes later, one of her daughters’ eyes was cloudy.
“Connor sent me a picture of them together that morning while I was out, and her eyes were fine,” Louise remarked.
“Her right eye had become cloudy when I returned.
We need to take her to A&E, I remarked before even opening the door.
Aretria’s condition was finally diagnosed – as bilateral congenital glaucoma – and even the specialists said they’d only seen a handful of cases.
Medics explained the little girl needed surgery but warned even then, she’d be left with little vision in her worst eye because the damage had already been done.
Louise said: “Doctors said she had been exposed to high eye pressure from birth because her fluid drainage system didn’t form properly in her eye when she was still in the womb.”
A surgery was scheduled at Birmingham Children’s Hospital, West Midlands, for June 13 which saw the tot go under the knife.
The four-hour procedure was followed by a month of eye drops six times a day as well as having protective eye shields taped onto her face for a week.
Louise said: “We didn’t get any sleep for about a week after and hoped that would be the last of it.
“But two weeks later when we went back for her post-op, the pressure readings were even higher than before.
“The operation had failed – and she would need more surgery.”
A second operation was done on August 18 – and it was again followed by a gruelling recovery for the tot, who couldn’t understand why any of it was happening.
They’re still waiting for official results, but signs so far suggest the surgery may have been unsuccessful for a second time.
Louise said if that’s the case, medics will move on to a different kind of surgery to release the pressure involving drainage tubes or valves.
She fears the tot “might not cope with another surgery” – but they may not have a choice.
While Aretria’s vision is virtually gone in her right eye, her left eye is compensating – although Louise and Connor fear the vision will worsen in her good eye too.
Louise wants to warn parents to look out for the symptoms – even if they might not seem sinister.
She said: “Before, she used to get compliments about her eyes six or seven times a day.
“Now I just feel really awkward when people say it.
“Aesthetically it might be, but having these big, beautiful eyes isn’t always a good thing.
“If we knew that before, she might not be blind in her right eye now.”