Optometrist Warns Against Retinoblastoma In Children

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Dr. Alfred Gardemor, the Public Relations Officer (PRO) for Ghana Optometric Association (GOA) said although retinoblastoma is relatively uncommon, it can have devastating consequences for the children affected by it.

“If treated too late, it can lead to the loss of the eye, invasion of the brain, and death.

“Retinoblastoma is an eye cancer that begins in the retina — the sensitive lining on the inside of your eye. Retinoblastoma most commonly affects young children, but can rarely occur in adults. Your retina is made up of nerve tissue that senses light as it comes through the front of your eye,” Dr Gardemor stated.

Dr. Gardemor who is a Principal Optometrist and Head of the Optometric Center at the Nsawam Government Hospital said this at the fifth Ghana News Agency-Tema Regional Office and the Ghana Optometric Association fortnightly public sensitization initiative “GNA-GOA: My Eye! My Vision!

The fortnight initiative is a collaborative public education advocacy campaign to promote the need for people to access eye care and also to draw attention to vision health.

The GNA-GOA: My Eyes! My Vision! initiative also seeks to challenge the public and policymakers to focus on vision as a health issue, which forms a critical component of mankind’s wellbeing but is often neglected.

Speaking on the topic “Children’s Vision and Eye Health”, Dr. Gardemor explained that retinoblastoma may occur in one or both eyes, stressing that retinoblastoma has few, if any, symptoms at first.

“It may be noticed if a pupil appears white when light is shone into the eye, sometimes with flash photography. Eyes may appear to be looking in different directions. Treatments include chemotherapy, radiation, and laser therapy,” Dr Gardemor noted.

Dr. Gadermor explained that a child with heritable retinoblastoma has an increased risk of a pineal tumour in the brain.

“When retinoblastoma and a brain tumour occur at the same time, it is called trilateral retinoblastoma. The brain tumour is usually diagnosed between 20 and 36 months of age,” he said.

He said the safest way to save a baby’s life when diagnosed with retinoblastoma was to take out the affected eye to prevent the spread.

He advised pregnant women to be cautious of what they eat during pregnancy since it was a stage where a lot of changes occurred in the human body and the baby.

Speaking on the topic: “Proper administration of eye drops,” Dr. Remi Ninkpe, GOA President, explained that administration of eye medication must be systematic to promote good vision.

He said the optometrist’s prescription must be followed to ensure that, the process did not incur additional health issues related to the eye.

Dr. Ninkpe who is a Deputy Superintendent of Police and an Optometrist at the Police Hospital in Accra said it was important to wash hands with soap and water and clean with dry neat towels to remove every impurity before administering the drugs.

He said that it was also important to check the tip of the eye drop after removing the dropper cap to make sure it had not cracked or damaged adding that the tip must not be touched.

He mentioned that one or two fingers could be placed on the face about an inch below the eye to gently pull down to create a pocket between your lower eyelid and your eyeball.

DSP Ninkpe advised that a clean tissue must be used to absorb and wipe away any drops that spill out of eyes and onto the eyelids as well as face and hands must be washed with soap to clean stray eye drops.

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