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The Battle to Save a Boy’s Sight
Comments () | Published May 1, 2008

In March of this year, he was inducted into the Spanish honor society at school. His brother, Matt, now a freshman at Pallotti, had earned a 3.89 GPA. Bobby told him he was proud of him.

Bobby couldn’t see well enough to take the SAT, so Pallotti guidance director Renee Duckworth read the entire test to him; it took seven hours. In March, Bobby learned he’d been accepted at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. He and his parents agreed that the bigger College Park campus would be too daunting for him, at least for the first year or two.

Bobby is scheduled to graduate with his class on May 22 at the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in the District.

Although Bobby’s vision has improved since his cyst was declared dead, the assaults on his optic nerve caused permanent damage. A visit with a neuro-ophthalmologist early this year showed that Bobby could see the large “E” on the eye chart from 20 feet, the best his vision had been in some time. The vision in his left eye remains poor, as does his peripheral vision. But his central vision has improved slightly in both eyes. Although he can see well enough to walk around and not bump into things and he reads and writes well using his CCTV, his eyesight remains limited.

Jallo hopes for more improvement, but neural tissue is the slowest in the body to regenerate. He thinks it unlikely the Bobby will regain enough eyesight to drive a car, and because his vision problem is neurological and not in the eye, glasses don’t help.

Bobby remains unsure what his vision will allow him to do, but he’s making plans for his future in college and after. He’s considering a career in psychology or some other path that allows him to serve others. He wants to marry and have a family. His ordeal, he says, has given him a keener appreciation of things he once took for granted—a sunny day, laughter, the love of friends and family.

Bobby not only learned some of life’s lessons; he taught them as well. As Sue Wiedel puts it, “All the time we were trying to help Bobby, he was helping and teaching us, but he never knew it because he taught us with his example, his courage and forbearance, and he did it with such grace.

“We all gained far more than we gave to Bobby. His struggles helped everyone in this school learn about themselves and what is important in life.”

To see more photographs of Bobby Sliko and his classmates and family, click here.

This article is from the May 2008 issue of The Washingtonian. For more articles from the issue, click here

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Posted at 12:00 AM/ET, 05/01/2008 RSS | Print | Permalink | Articles