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A Routine Eye Exam Saved My Mom’s Sight

Mariana has fond childhood memories of meals with her family, punctuated by the familiarity of conversations in Spanish over dishes of cooked plantains, rice and beans and other Nicaraguan recipes that were prepared by her mom, Carmen.

Fast forward to the present day and Mariana can easily recall those same memories when she is enjoying family meals that now include an extended family enjoying those same authentic plates.

Mariana also thinks about how these moments could have been much different if Carmen would not have been able to see, literally.

Nearly 15 years ago, Carmen was on the cusp of losing vision in both of her eyes, possibly altering how she connected with the people she loved by doing what she loved – nourishing her family’s body and soul.

A Seemingly Routine Visit

Unbeknownst to Mariana, Carmen had not visited an optometrist in nearly four years because she could see fine and didn’t think there was a need. Eventually, Carmen decided to schedule an appointment. During what appeared to be a smooth and uneventful exam, turned into a moment of intense scrutiny by the eye doctor.

The optometrist turned to Mariana, who often translates conversations from English to Spanish for Carmen, and said, “We’re going to have her go get an MRI.”

An Unexpected Diagnosis

The MRI showed that Carmen had a meningioma, a type of tumor that forms in the head. In Carmen’s case, the tumor was benign and had encroached upon the left optic nerve. It was growing at a rate where it would soon invade the right optic nerve, potentially causing permanent vision loss in both eyes.

Surgery to remove the tumor was the only way Carmen would be able to preserve her vision, hopefully in both eyes and at least in one of her eyes. The neuro-ophthalmologist who performed the surgery was confident they could remove the entire tumor but was transparent about the potential loss of sight in the eye impacted by the mass.

“It was actually one of the first things that she did when she opened her eyes, was close each eye,” said Mariana after Carmen’s eight-hour surgery. “We watched her and of course, that was emotional because she knew right away that it [vision] was gone.”

But recovery was great and she’s healthy, alive and thriving, so we couldn’t be more grateful.”

A Second Chance

Mariana certainly will be the first to say Carmen has fully taken advantage of still having the gift of sight – from traveling the world with Mariana’s dad, to cooking large servings of Nicaraguan recipes for family gatherings.

Carmen’s self-proclaimed “second chance at life” is thanks in large part to her scheduling an eye exam that resulted in a life-altering outcome. And because of that decision, Mariana can watch her mom create the same cherished memories with her grandchildren, including Mariana’s two sons.


Information received through VSP Vision Care channels is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice, medical recommendations, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your eye doctor, physician, or other qualified health providers with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.