Report abnormalities in children’s eyes to prevent blindness-parents advised

Accra, Aug 26, GNA-Parents have been advised to immediately report to the hospital when they discover any abnormality with their children's eyes for proper diagnosis and treatment.

They must watch out for eyes that look larger than normal, cloudy, or discoloured in the center, eye pain, eyes that look in different directions, redness in the white of the eye, and vision problems, and report as soon as possible to prevent blindness.

Prof Vera A. Essuman, an Associate Professor and Paediatric Ophthalmologist, Eye Department Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital (KBTH), who gave the advice said those kinds of eye diseases usually affect children and parents must be very watchful to observe any change in the eye.

She said any child with those symptoms needed the urgent attention of a doctor as it could be a case of retinoblastoma.

Prof Essuman disclosed this in an interview with the Ghana News Agency (GNA), on the sidelines of a two-day stakeholder meeting to discuss and share knowledge on the development of the national retinoblastoma strategy.

Retinoblastoma, she said, is one of the cancers that could affect the eye of children between age zero to five years and is the commonest intraocular childhood cancer in the world.

The comprehensive strategy, however, seeks to guide efforts to improve the medical care of children with retinoblastoma nationwide through early detection.

It would also ensure capacity building in human resource training, equipment, and other infrastructure, development of clinical guidelines, and establishment of clear referral pathways.

Prof Essuman indicated that KBTH alone diagnoses approximately 20 to 30 new patients each year, making retinoblastoma the commonest ocular tumor and the third commonest childhood cancer recorded in the institution.

She said national estimates of prevalence, based on physician reports from peripheral eye centers in the country reveal that between 65 and 70 new children were seen with retinoblastoma annually.

Survival from retinoblastoma in Ghana is estimated to be less than 50 percent because most patients present the disease late.

Prof Essuman said with early detection and appropriate treatment, the rate of survival is 99 percent.

She urged the public especially parents to desist from taking such cases to spiritual camps for healing as it might be too late to treat when they eventually visited the hospital.

"The journey has started with modest gains and it's time to escalate the national efforts to change the verdict from death to survival", she stated.