Cancer can leave children in the dark

Written by Admin, published on February 3, 2015 Donate Today

When you think of Operation Eyesight and our mission to eliminate avoidable blindness, the word “cancer” may not come to mind. However, eye cancer is a cause of blindness, and in some cases, this blindness could have been avoided with early detection.

Retinoblastoma, a malignant tumour that starts in the cells of the retina, is the most common type of eye cancer in children. According to The Times of India, retinoblastoma accounts for three percent of all cancers affecting children under the age of four. Around 2,200 new cases of eye cancer are reported every year in India, which is just one of the countries in which Operation Eyesight works.

“Timely treatment can save 95 percent of the children suffering from the disease. In 75 per cent of the cases, the child’s vision can be saved. Hence, awareness, early detection and treatment are extremely crucial,” says Dr. Swathi Kaliki, consultant, Orbit and Ocular Oncology Services, at the L V Prasad Eye Institute in Hyderabad, India.

Through Operation Eyesight’s school and community outreach programs, in both India and Africa, we are able to screen children for eye health problems and refer them to the nearest partner hospital for treatment.

When Sheri Naga Chaitanya was four months old, his mother noticed that he had a white reflex in his left eye. Upon referral, his mother took him to LV Prasad Eye Institute. Doctors discovered that he had retinoblastoma in both eyes and began treatment right away. He continues to receive treatment every six weeks. His parents are grateful to the ocular oncology team for providing the treatment free of cost.
I met four-year-old Evans when I visited our partner Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital in Eldoret, Kenya. Evans had his left eye removed after being diagnosed with cancer two years prior. Fortunately, the cancer appeared to be gone and Evans’ vision had improved in his remaining eye. His father was relieved to hear that Operation Eyesight’s donors would pay for Evans’ continued surgeries to help protect the boy’s health and remaining vision.
Three-year-old Brian had a tumour removed from his right eye at Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital. He received an artificial eye the following week.
Xavier was 20 months old when he received treatment at Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital. He had his right eye removed due to cancer. Two weeks later, he received an artificial eye. Doctors gave him medication to contain the cancer. Fortunately, the cancer had not spread outside the eye.

Sheri, Evans, Brian and Xavier are just four of the beneficiaries of our donors’ support. By providing much-needed funds for our community outreach and treatment programs, our donors have helped many other children like them.

Tomorrow, on World Cancer Day, I hope you will consider making a donation to Operation Eyesight so we can continue to treat children with eye cancer and preserve their vision.

I also encourage you to learn more about the symptoms of eye cancer and schedule regular eye exams yourself, so cancer and other blinding conditions can be detected and treated as early as possible.