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Moriches third-grader promotes eye health

Caitlyn Michiels, a third-grader at Moriches Elementary School,

Caitlyn Michiels, a third-grader at Moriches Elementary School, helped spur the creation of "Children's Eye Health and Safety Awareness Month" in Suffolk County. Photo Credit: William Floyd School District

A Moriches Elementary School student who has a rare eye disease is spurring awareness and the encouragement of parents to have their children's eyes checked before the start of a school year.

Third-grader Caitlyn Michiels, 9, was recently diagnosed with anterior bilateral uveitis, a rare disease that causes inflammation of the middle layer of the eye. She takes anti-inflammatory medication and special vitamins daily, has her eyes dilated with drops twice a day, and has started a low-dose chemotherapy treatment.

In an effort to educate others about the ailment, Caitlyn reached out to Legis. Rudolph Sunderman (R-Shirley), asking for assistance in creating a Uveitis Awareness Day. Sunderman ultimately succeeded in having August designated as "Children's Eye Health and Safety Awareness Month" in Suffolk County.

The designation, which was signed by County Executive Steve Bellone on April 23, also directs the county Department of Health Services to develop educational materials focused on eye health for distribution during the month of August.

"Caitlyn is the perfect example of how one voice, no matter how small, can make a difference," Sunderman said.

Deirdre Redding, principal of Moriches Elementary, said, "I am so incredibly proud of her strength and bravery."

Caitlyn, a Girl Scout, is active in the William Floyd Youth Lacrosse program and is a member of her school's Book Club and Health Lifestyle Club.

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