A young girl wearing a rainbow eye patch smiling a the camera. She is sitting up in bed holding a cuddly toy.

Five-year-old Maisie was born completely blind in one eye due to a congenital cataract. She was first admitted to Moorfields at 10 days old and operated on at just five weeks.

Ever since her first operation, Maisie has been a regular patient at Moorfields. For Maisie’s parents it was a huge shock to learn the long-term implications of their child’s eye condition. Although Maisie’s vision has improved, she is still severely visually impaired in her left eye and will likely continue visiting the hospital until she is an adult. Every day for six hours, Maisie wears a patch on one eye, to help improve the vision in her right eye which is important as Maisie only has a couple of years left to establish her vision for life. 

What are congenital cataracts?

Learn more

Congenital cataracts are a form of cataract that affect children and babies, where the lens behind the pupil becomes cloudy, making it difficult to see clearly.

When a baby is born with a cataract it is called a congenital cataract’. If a cataract develops in the first six months of life it is known as an infantile cataract’.

Cataracts can affect one or both eyes and are caused by a genetic fault inherited from the parent, a genetic condition such as Down’s syndrome, infections or an injury.

As well as poor vision, cataracts can also cause children to develop a squint (where the eyes point in different directions) or wobbly eyes’ (caused by a condition called nystagmus).

3-4 per 10,000

Around 3-4 out of every 10,000 children born have a cataract

Congenital cataracts do not always impact vision. However, if they do, the child may need surgery to remove their cataract(s). Once a cataract has been removed, it cannot grow back.

During 2020, Maisie made five trips to Moorfields- two to A&E and three routine check ups. Despite being in lockdown and with covid restrictions in place at Moorfields, Maisie felt well looked after:

Even in the midst of a pandemic, where the guidance is unclear and ever changing, the staff have been calm, fun, understanding, patient, kind and professional. As ever, their priority is that Maisie feels comfortable and relaxed before they attempt to examine her. They have put thought and effort into making the children’s waiting area as Covid-friendly as they can, by providing individual play and pen packs and funny leaflets about PPE making the doctors like superheroes, whilst putting themselves on the front line to make sure we can always get the urgent care Maisie requires.

Claudia Marr, Maisie’s mum

Feeling supported

Maisie goes to the Richard Desmond Children’s Eye Centre at Moorfields which was largely funded through philanthropy

Play is important for children and young people, especially in stressful or unfamiliar places like hospitals. Every year Moorfields Eye Charity funds new and replacement toys for the Richard Desmond Children’s Eye Centre to help put younger patients at ease. Putting children at ease also helps to reassure parents too. 

In our case, not only has Maisie has been supported as a patient, but we have been supported as her parents.

Claudia Marr, Maisie’s mum

Maisie and her mum talk about her eye condition and taking part in My Eye to Eye

Saying thank you

After experiencing the care Moorfields provided to their daughter, Maisie’s parents began looking for ways to give back to Moorfields. Four years ago, they decided to take part in the Eye to Eye walk – Moorfields Eye Charity’s annual fundraiser. Along with Maisie’s extended family, they now take part in the event every year. As a family, they all see it as an opportunity to reflect on how far Maisie has come and to remind themselves of how lucky they are to receive treatment at Moorfields.

The amazing work of the NHS staff has changed our lives and helped us so much. They talk to Maisie, make her feel relaxed, play with her and explain what they are going to do. Maisie now knows the eye doctor’ is a fun and friendly place. We hope that the charity can continue to fund patient support and find the best treatment and technology to help Maisie - and others.”

Claudia Marr, Maisie’s mum