Eye expert: Child probably won’t have depth perception

Eye expert: Child probably won’t have depth perception »Play Video
Leah Reznick, a pediatric ophthalmologist, testified Tuesday the daughter of a faith-healing couple will likely never have depth perception because of a large growth on her left eye that was left untreated.

OREGON CITY, Ore. – The child at the center of a faith-healing trial is still legally blind in her left eye and will probably never have depth perception because of a large growth on her eye, according to a pediatric ophthalmologist who testified Tuesday.

Dr. Leah Reznick from Oregon Health and Science University's Casey Eye Institute was the first vision specialist to examine 7-month-old Alayna Wyland in July last year after child protective services investigators determined she was in need of immediate care.

Alayna's parents, Tim and Rebecca Wyland are members of the faith-healing church, The Followers of Christ, which believes in prayer over modern medicine. The parents are accused of medically neglecting their daughter as the growth on her left eye continued to grow shortly after birth until she was taken from her parents by the state.

Reznick said Alayna's eye was swollen shut to the point that it took 16 days of drug therapy before she could even look at it.

"On the first day I met her I couldn’t open the eye well enough without her screaming to be able to have a sense whether she could see out of the eye or not," Reznick said.

She said the growth changed the shape of Alayna's eye and forced the eyeball to point out and down. She said the girl will eventually need surgery to correct the position of her left eye. But she said Alayna will probably have less than a 30-percent chance of regaining her vision fully even with surgery.

Under cross-examination, Reznick said Alayna’s parents have complied with her treatment orders. She said the Wylands, who have had custody of Alayna since October, have followed her requests to the letter and Alayna's eye is tracking better now.

During the trial Tuesday, arguments swirled around the drug that is now being used to treat Alayna’s eye. According to the Wylands' defense attorneys, the drug is experimental in children. But according to doctors who saw the girl, it's widely used and also may have saved vision in her eye.

Reznick told jurors the drug propranolol reduced the swelling. And when the drug stopped working, "We decided we needed to up the amount of propranolol that she was receiving."

Defense attorneys said the Wylands then discovered Alayna was given too much of the drug. In addition to saying it is experimental they also said it’s not approved for use in children.
But Reznick testified it's better than surgery.

If the Wylands are convicted of criminal mistreatment, they could face prison time.

The trial resumes Wednesday morning.