White glow in picture of your baby’s eye cause of worry
By Ajita Rijal
Kathmandu, May 20: Be careful! If you notice a white glow in the eyes of your babies while taking pictures, do not wait to rush to an eye doctor.
It might be a sign of a rare eye cancer, a severe case called retinoblastoma, according to doctors. They say it is a rare form of eye cancer that affects babies and children aged below five.
According to ophthalmologist Dr. Ben Bahadur Limbu, Consultant Cataract and Oculoplastic Surgeon, of Tilganga Institute of Ophthalmology, retinoblastoma may occur in one or both eyes. “It begins in the retina, the layer of nerve cells lining the back of the eye. If it attacks one eye then the chance of its spreading to other parts of the body will be less, but if it attacks both the eyes, chances are very high of spreading to other parts of body, including the spine and brain,” said Dr. Limbu.
Symptoms of this disease, according to Dr. Limbu, are white colour in the pupil when light is shown in the eyes, such as when taking photograph with flash, or the eyes that appear to be looking in different directions, swelling and redness in the eyes. The earliest sign of retinoblastoma is the white papillary reflex. Some parents notice this and visit the hospital out of curiosity. While some parents think it is a sign of good luck or fortune and leave it as it is until it grows out of the eye, leading to risk for both the vision and life, said Dr. Limbu.
“Nearly 40 per cent of retinoblastoma cases are hereditary. This type of retinoblastoma usually develops from early stages. A little less than half of all cases are inherited. That means the gene that makes the cells grow is passed from parents to child. Inherited cases are more likely to affect both eyes and are more vulnerable,” said Dr. Limbu. If detected early, this form of eye cancer is treatable and the eye can usually be saved. But unfortunately, awareness of this cancer is low, and it often goes undiagnosed until the last stages, said Dr. Limbu.
Seventy per cent of the children suffering from retinoblastoma face death as they do not get treatment in time, he said. “We do not have the exact data of the eye cancer patients in Nepal. However, around 30-45 such patients visit Tilganga Eye Hospital annually”, he said.
A research on retinoblastoma has started in Nepal from January this year throughout the seven states, said Dr. Limbu, adding, “We may come up with the exact data of the eye cancer patients in the country by December this year.” World Retinoblastoma Awareness Week was marked from May 13 to 19 by organising various activities in 27 different hospitals of all the seven provinces to create awareness among people.
Tilganga Institute of Ophthalmology in coordination with Nepal Medical Society’s Eye Plastic Surgery unit, conducted awareness campaign against eye cancer.
Each year, more than 5,000 new cases of retinoblastoma are diagnosed across the world. One among 20,000 children are diagnosed with this kind of cancer in the world.
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