Routine Eye Exam Turns into Family's Worst Nightmare for 7-Year-Old Daughter


As the saying goes, “The eye is the window to the soul.” For a young girl named Alexis, her eyes were windows into a serious condition that had not presented itself until a routine eye exam.

In January 2017, Lauren Tyrrell took her three daughters, including Alexis, to undergo routine eye exams. None of them were complaining of eye pain or vision problems to spark the visit to the ophthalmologist.

Yet, Tyrrell made the appointments because her youngest daughter mentioned they should get their eyes tested before going back to school after they had been on break. A pressure test was part of the eye exam.

High pressure behind Alexis’ eyes was detected. Her results were so high that the ophthalmologist remarked that there must have been an error, but there was no mistake.

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Photographs of optic nerve swelling behind the young girl’s eyes only added to the ophthalmologist’s concerns. Tyrrell wasn’t expecting to be taking Alexis to eye specialists when she made the original eye exam appointment.

The pace for diagnosing and treating Alexis’ condition sped up dramatically on July 4, 2017. Tyrrell answered her phone at 5 p.m. and learned that the MRI results warranted a hospital transfer.

Within two hours, Alexis was being transferred to The Royal Children’s Hospital. On July 7, 2017, the real nightmare hit Alexis’ parents as they talked to specialists.

Alexis needed brain surgery, and she needed it immediately. At this point, Tyrrell considered her daughter a normal and healthy child despite the various eye-doctor visits they’d been having.

Alexis was diagnosed with a Chiari malformation, “a condition in which brain tissue grows into the spinal canal and part of the skull presses on the brain and forces it downward.”

The shocked and concerned mom cried when she learned doctors were preparing for emergency brain surgery. She did her best to be strong for her daughter, though.

“When we went to get ready, she asked what was going on because there were people everywhere. I said, ‘They’re gonna do a little operation on your head,” Tyrrell told PEOPLE.

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“We were devastated. We didn’t expect to have to be rushed into surgery. When they told us, we thought we would have a week or two, but we had like two hours then they took Alexis into surgery.”

Alexis underwent another emergency brain surgery just three days later. While the future is uncertain for Alexis, she is now 8-years-old and she and her family are taking life one day at a time.

Her mom concluded on Facebook, “Eye tests save lives. We are so lucky.”

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Carolyn Fultz is a former contributor for Liftable Media. She holds a B.A. in Communication from Hope College.
Carolyn Fultz is a former contributor for Liftable Media. She holds a B.A. in Communication from Hope College. Carolyn's writing has been featured in both online and print media, including Just Between Us magazine. She resides in Phoenix with her husband and children.
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