In 2011 I gave birth to my second child via emergency C-section at 39 weeks gestation. Besides some delivery complications, Ryder, at 8 lbs., 7 oz., seemed to be a healthy baby boy.
His pediatrician came in the room and told us that Ryder was diagnosed with congenital cataracts, a very rare condition to be born with.
The pediatrician referred us to Dr. Richard Hertle, an ophthalmologist at Akron Children’s Hospital.
Our first visit to Dr. Hertle was the day I was discharged from delivery and Ryder was 4 days old. Dr. Hertle expressed how important it was that Ryder have surgery done before he was 4 weeks old. This would be very valuable in his road to living a normal life.
Dr. Hertle held my hand and explained to me every detail and answered all my questions. I was very scared and nervous and didn’t understand everything about his condition.
But Dr. Hertle had a way of making my husband and me feel very comfortable and assured us that Ryder would be in good hands.
Ryder’s first surgery was called a lensectomy, and Dr. Hertle removed Ryder’s lens in his right eye. Following surgery Ryder had many visits each month to Dr. Hertle and also underwent anesthesia a few more times for thorough eye exams.
Ryder had to wear a silicon contact lens for the first year and half of his life. At age 2½, Dr. Hertle decided Ryder needed a surgery to implant a plastic lens in his eye. Ryder no longer needed a contact lens after this surgery.
But a year later, at age 3½, Ryder got his first prescription glasses. We also found out around this time that Ryder was mildly autistic.
Along with eye therapy at home and in Dr. Hertle’s office, wearing glasses, and constant eye exams, Ryder is partially able to see in his right eye.
Ryder is the most loving, caring and goofy 3 year old I know. He makes everyone in the room laugh and loves to be the center of attention. He is outgoing and smart and doesn’t let this condition stop him in any way.
He has a mom and dad who love him very much and 3 siblings who enjoy him every moment. Ryder is so strong, he makes me proud every step of the way.
Dr. Hertle and his staff are absolutely amazing, I haven’t heard anyone say anything bad about Dr. Hertle. He has saved my son’s life in a way that my son will be able to feel more normal growing up and not let his vision be a stop to his dreams.
We were told that Ryder will be limited to certain activities, such as driving or being able to join any branch of the army. But as Ryder’s parents, we will be here to help him and always encourage him to follow his dreams.
He is our special little boy and holds a special place in everyone’s hearts he comes in contact with.
As part of our year-long anniversary celebration, we’re telling the story of Akron Children’s through the eyes of past and present employees, doctors, donors, volunteers and patient families. We encourage you to share your own memories and stories about us.