A BUNDABERG mother is crying out for help to save the eyesight of her four-month-old baby before time runs out.
Alison Foody said her son, Russell Sim, was a healthy bundle of joy when he was born but at just three months of age the family's lives changed dramatically.
"I put him to bed a happy bub on the Friday night only to wake up the next morning to see Russell's right eye was completely grey in colour - it was just smoky grey and we couldn't see the whites of his eye," Ms Foody said.
"We rushed him up to the hospital straight away where they said we had to get him to Brisbane as soon as possible as he has congenital glaucoma."
The mother-of-six said she was frightened and just wanted to make sure her baby would be okay but didn't know what it would mean for her sons eyesight.
"In Brisbane we saw eye specialist, Dr Chaing, who advised us the only way to save his sight was to undergo a number of operations," Ms Foody said.
"He has now had his first of at least eight operations which he will need to have by the time he is 12 months old.
"The operation releases eye pressure and we found out his right eye nerve is already damaged."
She said little Russell's eyes needed four operations in each and was concerned if he didn't get them soon he would end up blind. The operations can only be done one at a time and would be spread over the next 12 months.
"It will be irreversible blindness if we can't get all the operations done," Ms Foody said.
"I realise this will come at a cost and need help - but I can't seem to find it here in Bundaberg."
Ms Foody said she had approached a number of Bundaberg charities but they were unable to assist her with costs involved and she said she was on the patient travel subsidy scheme (PTSS) at Bundaberg Hospital but there was a delay in it being refunded and the cost was a lot more then it offered.
"We have to go down for each operation and check ups in between, it's hard when I have a family I have to leave behind here as well," Ms Foody said.
"We are trying to fundraise by selling stuff at the Shalom Markets and we have set up a my cause fundraising page which can be found at http://www.mycause.com.au and searching: Save Russell's eyesight.
"I will love him the same if he does go blind but I want to give him everything I can and hopefully we can save his eyesight."
The youngster will continue to wear sunglasses to protect his eyes which are sensitive to light and his mother gives him a number of eye drops daily to assist in reducing the pressure caused by the disease as they hope someone can offer help.
What is glaucoma?
GLAUCOMA is the name given to a group of eye diseases in which the optic nerve at the back of the eye is destroyed.
Bundaberg ophthalmologists Jai Panchapakesan said glaucoma could cause tunnel vision if left untreated and in some patients could lead to complete blindness.
"Congenital glaucoma is when a baby is born with it," Dr Panchapakesan said.
"Glaucoma is when there is higher pressure in the eye which damages the optic nerve.
"This can lead to a complete loss of vision."
Dr Jai said treatment in babies would be surgery but in older adults it would be a last resort.
He said the eye disease could occur in any baby and genetic links were not yet fully understood.
Over 300,000 Australians have glaucoma. While it is more common as people age, it can occur at any age and as the population becomes older, the proportion of glaucoma patients is increasing.