Feature Story | 1-Jun-2023

Making kids eye care more accessible

In Michigan, families in Grand Blanc and Flint don’t have to go far for pediatric eye specialists

Michigan Medicine - University of Michigan

Having the right care close to home is critical for many families. Just look at three-year-old Hudson Slackta. 

Hudson is a fun-loving toddler with an affinity for cars, monster trucks and getting dirty. Like most toddlers, he’s active and adventurous. When his family noticed he was missing developmental milestones and struggling with his visual perception skills, they started looking for eye doctors. His family originally brought him to adult eye doctors in their area, but quickly found that these offices weren’t a good environment for him.  

The doctors also prescribed Hudson with glasses, but they weren’t a great match.  

“Once he got his glasses, he did everything but wear them,” Cassandra Slackta said. “He was looking around the lens and ripping them off.” 

Hudson’s family eventually sought out pediatric eye care through Michigan Medicine. This led them to Courtney Dewey, O.D., who saw Hudson in Brighton, one of Kellogg Eye Center’s community offices. The family’s experience immediately changed.  

This clinic was designed for children like Hudson, with fun furnishing and distractions to keep him busy while being treated. More importantly, staff trained to work with children and a pediatric provider who could finally find Hudson the right prescription.  

“Ever since then, it's been so much better. The progress that he's had there has just been astronomically better, because obviously, he's wearing an appropriate prescription,” Cassandra Slackta said. 

The only remaining challenge was distance – the family had to travel to Brighton for Hudson’s appointments once every three months, and an hour-long drive isn’t easy for a toddler. So they were delighted when Dewey’s clinic informed them of Kellogg’s Grand Blanc clinic, only minutes from their home. It was a relief for them to learn they could conveniently continue getting the focused pediatric care Hudson needed.  

“We feel like we finally found a good place for him, and we're so excited about it. We don't have to dread the eye doctor because it's a fun place to be,” Cassandra Slackta said. “We’re grateful for that.” 

Continued care

Jacqueline Nguyen, O.D., is now Hudson’s eye care provider. In addition to making sure Hudson has the appropriate glasses prescription, she also treats Hudson's amblyopia, a vision problem that affects about 4% of children.

Amblyopia, often called “lazy eye,” occurs when one or both eyes do not develop normal vision during early childhood. If left untreated, it can lead to permanent vision loss.

Nguyen treats Hudson's amblyopia with daily eye patching to help strengthen the vision in his weaker eye. Nguyen said she is “optimistic that Hudson will continue to do well as he goes through amblyopia treatment, where the long-term goal is to achieve and maintain equal vision in both eyes.” 

“Hudson is a bright 3-year-old who I'm fortunate to take care of. One of the most important parts of successful treatment is good family support. Hudson is lucky to have parents who play an active role in his care and ask the important questions,” she said.

Nguyen is looking forward to providing eye care to other families like Hudson’s in the Grand Blanc and Flint communities. 

“Pediatric vision care in the Flint/Grand Blanc area is limited, and oftentimes families have to travel long distances to receive care. I’m happy to play a part in making eye care more accessible,” Nguyen said.

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