NBA star Derek Fisher walked away from a $21 million contract to be close to his sick daughter. He has since signed with the Los Angeles Lakers for $7 million less — a small price to pay considering his 1-year-old daughter will get the medical supervision she needs. This is a heart warming story that also serves as a valuable reminder about why eye health is important even for young children.
Earlier this month, Fisher asked the Utah Jazz to release him from his three-year, $21 million contract. He wanted to be closer to his baby daughter, Tatum, who suffers from retinoblastoma, a rare cancer, in her left eye.
Fisher grabbed headlines in May when he entered Game 2 of the Warriors-Jazz playoff series, only hours after Tatum had surgery to remove a tumor between her eye and brain. Then, he asked the Jazz to release him so he could move his family to a city with specialists for Tatum. The specialists also will closely watch Tatum’s twin brother, Drew, who is at risk of developing the disease in the next three years.
Fisher admits to being a private person. He went public about Tatum’s ordeal to encourage other parents to prioritize their children’s eye health. Fisher’s wife, Candace, brought Tatum to her pediatrician when she noticed the baby’s eye “glowed” when viewed from certain angles.
Many children have their first eye exam in first or second grade through their school. But the University of Michigan Kellogg Eye Center recommends infants have their first eye exam by 6 months old. From 1 to 18 years old, eye exams are advised every two to four years. The American Optometric Association recommends more frequent visits for children who are premature, have a family history of eye conditions and other risk factors, including central nervous system dysfunction.
Eye health makes a difference, especially when it comes to learning in school. The California Optometric Association notes that during a child’s first 12 years, 80 percent of all learning occurs through vision. Undetected vision problems are seen in 60 percent of students labeled as problem learners. Stamping this out before it becomes a problem is as simple as finding a doctor in your area. It’s far better to be safe than sorry.
– Ann Tatko-Peterson