Gene therapy leads to improved vision for Oregon boy facing blindness

**Embargo: Portland, Oregon** A 4-year-old is now seeing for the first time after a miraculous eye surgery.

PORTLAND, Ore. — A 4-year-old Oregon boy is now seeing for the first time after a miraculous eye surgery.

His surgeon at Oregon Health & Science University says it’s all thanks to a new gene therapy treatment that only a few centers in the country offer.

Caspian Soto is like any other 4-year-old: curious and chatty.

But he’s been navigating the world in a black hole – born with a rare genetic mutation that causes blindness.

“He was just staring at overhead lights all of the time,” Krista Soto, Caspian’s mother, told KPTV. “He wasn’t making eye contact, he wasn’t tracking toys that we put in front of his face and waved to play with him.”

Not long after Caspian was diagnosed, doctors told his parents there might be treatments soon approved by the FDA that could help their son.

“Do we go along and not do this treatment and he pretty certainly is going to go blind or do we do this treatment and have a risk of that happening?” Soto said.

They took a leap of faith and trusted Caspian’s eyes with Dr. Andreas Lauer at OHSU, who performed the surgeries on him in late September.

It’s a new gene therapy treatment offered at only a few centers in the country.

Doctors inject genetic material underneath the retina to try to treat these conditions.

“It’s pretty remarkable to be able to provide treatment for something that was previously resulted in blindness,” Lauer said.

Caspian is only the second person in Oregon to undergo this treatment and came out of surgery in a whole new world. His parents say it only took two weeks for him to start seeing spaces in a new way.

“I keep having to pinch myself and be like, is this real … do I not have to worry about this anymore?” said Soto.

Caspian is 4 years old, but his parents say doctors only expect his vision to improve.

“We got out of the car and he goes, ‘Mama, a star’… And I said, ‘That’s not a star, that’s a plane in the sky but how awesome that you can see that!” Soto said.