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All Eyes Here



Just before dawn on a frigid January morning, lights came on one-by-one in the Nelson home in Casselton, N.D. Like busy families everywhere, they’d soon start their day. Dad Mike to his shoe-repair shop. Mom Beth to her IT job. Their two older kids to school and 3-year-old Ben to day care.

Then came the scream.

“You know that yell your kids make when something really bad has happened? That’s exactly what I heard,” says Mike.

Ben came running into the hallway covering his right eye. In the next half hour, while the other kids got ready for school, Mike and Beth tried to comfort Ben and figure out what happened. Unable to open his eye, Ben kept trying to rub it. Out popped a white plastic pellet from a BB gun.

Rapid path to emergency eye care

By 8 o’clock that morning, Beth, Mike and Ben were on the highway headed to Fargo, 25 miles away. Beth called Sanford Southpointe Eye Center from her phone.

A short while later, the family was with Sanford Optometrist Dr. Maggie Kelly. “She was phenomenal,” says Beth. “So kind, caring and gentle. Everyone throughout this whole ordeal was so good to Ben and us.”

Dr. Suby Kelly assessed Ben and told the family the eye abrasion required a higher level of care. She connected the Nelsons with Dr. Geoffrey Tufty, Sanford pediatric ophthalmologist from Sioux Falls. He also sees patients at Sanford South University Eye Center in Fargo.

An exam that same morning with Dr. Tufty included an eye pressure and optic nerve check. Dr. Tufty’s kindness, the presence of Mike and Beth, and animated animals on the exam room’s walls calmed Ben’s fears.

Smiling, Ben recalls what he saw: “The pig room, the horsey room, the cow room.” He laughs when Mike adds animal sounds.

Dr. Tufty explained Ben’s injury, including the risk of extensive bleeding, the need for medicated eye drops and the importance of keeping Ben still to ensure best possible healing.

“That was tough, especially with Ben,” says Beth. “He’s as boy as a boy can get.”

More challenges, more care

A next-day checkup with Sanford Ophthalmologist Dr. Steven Anderson showed improvement. “There were still blood droplets in his eye, but no more bleeding.” says Beth. “The injury could’ve led to permanent vision loss.”

But that afternoon, yet another accident for the active boy. While drumming, Ben poked himself in his sore eye with a drumstick. Beth immediately called Sanford Eye Center, talking directly with Dr. Anderson.

“I was amazed when he came on the phone. No runaround,” she says. A prompt in-person visit with Dr. Anderson at Sanford followed. All checked out fine.

Over the next several days Ben had more ups and downs, including a medication reaction. Each time Beth got the help needed from everyone, including switchboard operators who were ready to take calls and transfer them to the appropriate departments.

During weekdays she called Sanford Eye Center. After hours she called My Sanford Nurse, (link here) the 24-hour nurse phone line.

“I couldn’t believe how seamless this was,” she says. “The receptionists, the Eye Center nurses, the staff at My Sanford Nurse … everyone knew exactly what to do.”

Mike was struck by the friendliness of the Sanford professionals. “Our second time there they knew us by name,” he says.

Dr. Anderson speaks for the entire team when he says, “Our goal is preserving vision. We understand the importance of acting quickly in certain urgent situations. We also strive to put patients first.”

Back to normal

Today, Ben is 100 percent back to his fun, active life and has excellent vision. He no longer needs eye drops and his follow-up doctor appointments are becoming less frequent.

“The care has been exceptional and we’re so grateful,” says Mike. “This injury could’ve turned out so badly.”

The day Ben was injured the Nelsons packed up the airsoft guns and put them well out of reach.

“Several of the doctors said these guns should be outlawed,” says Beth. “We hope other parents learn from our experience.”

Your eyes, our experts

From preventive to corrective to urgent, Sanford Eye Center has the expertise and efficiency busy families need. In addition to specialized children’s care, Sanford offers:

  • Glaucoma care. Dr. Anderson is North Dakota’s only fellowship-trained glaucoma specialist.
  • Expertise in cataract and other surgical procedures.
  • If you have an eye injury

  • Call your local Sanford Eye Center during business hours.
  • After hours call My Sanford Nurse or visit your local ER.
  • “I will forever stand by Sanford Eye Center,” says Beth. “They take care of you.”

    Posted Date: April 2013

    All Eyes Here

    When 3-year-old Ben Nelson suffered an eye injury, parents Beth and Mike discovered the expertise and efficiency of Sanford Eye Center. With locations across the region, it’s the perfect place for busy families.