Laura Cross and her husband Craig are the busy parents of three – Cameron, 8, Audrey, 3 and 18 month old Lexi. When Audrey was diagnosed with aniridia at two weeks old, Laura found Vision for Tomorrow and with it a network of support and hope for a bright future for her daughter. The Vision for Tomorrow team reconnected with Laura to see how it is going and to ask her for advice she would share with new parents.
VFT: Who is affected by aniridia or albinism in your family?
Laura: Audrey has sporadic aniridia. She has cataracts in both eyes, even though the one in her right eye is significantly larger. And she has nystagmus. So far, we haven’t had much luck with getting her vision tested – but at her latest appointment the best guess was about 20/200.
VFT: What does your child do today that you never thought possible?
Laura: This is a tough question to answer. When Audrey was first diagnosed, at two weeks old, her pediatrician told me she was blind. It was like a slap across the face. I saw a very dark world ahead of her. But now, Audrey is a bright, fun, loving three-year-old little girl. She’s a true ray of sunshine! She is in a regular daycare and thriving! She is smart and witty and fantastic. She climbs on jungle gyms and she loves to play soccer and do gymnastics. I never thought any of that was possible. She continues to exceed my every expectation.
VFT: What would you tell a parent of a newly diagnosed child with aniridia?
Laura: I know, I KNOW it feels like the end of the world – But it’s NOT! Your child has a bright future ahead of them. Yes, there will be struggles, but that is true with any child! It’s vitally important to find eye doctors that you trust and to find a network of other parents with children with aniridia. You will probably learn more from other families dealing with aniridia than you will with any doctor.
VFT: How do you stay positive about the challenges that come with aniridia?
Laura: So far, Audrey has been blessed. We haven’t had to deal with any surgeries – and the biggest struggle we’ve really dealt with has been the very beginning with the genetic testing and the “world of the unknown”. But I know there are struggles lying ahead of us – And we will take them one obstacle at a time. Again, every child is going to have struggles. This is Audrey’s. We will take it one step at a time – and we will reach out to this awesome community of families. And it’s easy to stay positive… Audrey is positive! Audrey is my baby girl – And we will face everything together as a family.
VFT: What is your vision for tomorrow for your child?
Laura: There is no limit to Audrey’s vision for tomorrow. I honestly believe nothing will stand in her way. I am anxious about when she starts kindergarten – I know I will have to be extra vigilant about being on top of her teachers and her schoolwork. Is the print large enough? Is she sitting close enough to the board? Is she being heard when she says she’s having issues seeing something? But I don’t think there is a difference between what she can accomplish and what my other two children can accomplish. If she wants to run a marathon – she will run a marathon. If she wants to be a dancer – she will be a dancer. If she wants to get her master’s degree – she will get her master’s degree. She is an extraordinary child – with an extraordinary future!
We thank Laura for sharing her story. You can read more about her experiences on her blog and Facebook page Audrey’s Eyes. In addition to raising her family, Laura is the executive producer on one of Tampa’s top morning programs and contributes to the “Tampa Bay Mom Blog”.