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Late detection of retinoblastoma can cause blindness, Optometrist warns

An Optometrist, Dr. Progress Oyegbeda, on Friday, warned that retinoblastoma in the eyes could lead to blindness, if not detected on time.

Oyegbeda, who works with Clear Vision Eye Clinic in Benin, told News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) that “retinoblastoma is an eye cancer that begins from the back of the eye (retina), most commonly in children.

“Retinoblastoma affects young children the most, but can occur rarely in adults. It may occur in one or both eyes.

“The retina is made up of nerve tissues that sense light as it comes through the front of your eye. The retina sends signals through the optic nerve to the brain, where signals are interpreted as images.

“Because retinoblastoma mostly affects infants and children, symptoms are rare.”

The optometrist, however, said that signs such as white colour in the centre circle of the eye (pupil) when light was shone in the eye, like when taking a flash photograph could be an indicator.

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He added that the eye could also appear to be looking in different directions, may be red and swollen.

Oyegbeda said that children treated for retinoblastoma had the risk of cancer returning in and around the treated eye.

He counselled that for this reason, the child’s doctor would schedule follow-up examination to check for recurrent retinoblastoma.

“The doctor may design a personalised follow-up exam schedule for your child. In most cases, this will likely involve eye exams every few months for the first few years after retinoblastoma treatment ends,’’ he said.

The optometrist explained that retinoblastoma occurred when nerve cells in the retina developed genetic mutations.

“These mutations cause the cells to continue growing and multiplying when healthy cells die. This accumulating mass of cells forms a tumour.

“Retinoblastoma cells can further invade the eye and nearby structures. It can also spread to other areas of the body, including the brain and spine,’’ Oyegbeda said. (NAN)