Dr Ahmad Atef Abdelhamid Shabana
Dr Ahmad Atef Abdelhamid Shabana Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: A newborn baby diagnosed with a rare genetic disorder underwent multiple eye surgeries in a UAE hospital to prevent permanent damage to both the eyes. The one-week old baby, diagnosed with Sturge Weber Syndrome, was recently operated by surgeons at the Thumbay Hosptial in Ajman.

Sturge-Weber syndrome (SWS) is a neurological disorder related to a gene mutation, marked by a distinctive port-wine stain on the forehead, scalp or around the eye. This stain is a birthmark caused by an overabundance of capillaries near the surface of the skin. Blood vessels on the same side of the brain as the stain may also be affected. This condition is a highly unpredictable, progressive syndrome that can cause glaucoma, seizures and developmental disability.

The surgeries were performed by a team led by Dr Ahmad Atef Abdelhamid Shabana, Specialist — Ophthalmology.

Dr Ahmad told Gulf News: “The baby’s condition was first detected by doctors of Thumbay Hospital’s NICU, who alerted us as soon as they noticed clouding of the cornea, with symptoms indicating SWS. Detailed examinations revealed that the baby had stains on both sides of the face and the body, not a typical symptom of SWS. What was even more alarming was that both the eyes of the newborn had elevated pressure inside, causing clouding of the eye. This too wasn’t like the typical glaucoma that comes with Sturge Weber, usually affecting only one eye.”

The team led by Dr Ahmad decided to examine the newborn under general anaesthesia to detect the exact pressure and the degree of glaucoma. The team examined the baby and confirmed high pressure in both eyes. Subsequently, two glaucoma surgeries — trabeculotomy and trabeculectomy — were performed in both eyes. The patient was admitted for the next few days and kept under close observation until the pressure in the eyes normalised and the cornea started to clear again.

“Performing four surgeries (two on each eye) in one go, on a seven-day-old baby was a very tough decision to take and needed a lot of confidence in everyone; from the parents to begin with and from the paediatric neonatology, anaesthesia and surgical teams. We had never seen a case like this before, where bilateral Sturge Weber-induced glaucoma had to be operated on at such an early age. I am glad we could help the baby pass this very rough and critical time,” said Dr Ahmad.