Save the eye, save the child. Retinoblastoma Awareness 2020

The eyes are the most treasured sense organs in humans; these organs provide us a gateway to the world outside of us. Unfortunately in India, every year 1500-2000 children are diagnosed with a cancerous tumour of the eyes– this tumour is called Retinoblastoma. Retinoblastomas are the most common cancer of the eye in children and is generally seen in children below the age of 5 years.

The peculiar feature about this tumour is that the child does not experience any pain or discomfort, the child continues to play and lead a normal life. However, a unique “white glow” or “white eye reflex” can be observed in the affected eyes when a flash photograph of the child is taken.

Some of the other signs of the tumour include:

1. Squinting or deviation of the eyes

2. White halo/mark in the lower part of the eye

3. In advanced cases, there may be protrusion of the eyeball

Ignoring these tumours can lead to permanent blindness and even death. But, early diagnosis can ensure effective treatment is given to the child and save his/her life.

What should a teacher or a parent do if they spot the “white glow” in a child’s eyes?

  • A qualified ophthalmologist (specialist doctor of the eyes) must evaluate the child.

  • The doctor will use special drops to dilate the eyes and view the internal structure of the eye through an ophthalmoscope

  • The doctor will then suggest the next course of action