Staff Reporter

Medical advances have improved prognosis

CHENNAI: Tumours in the eye do not just blank vision but can snatch away lives, if not diagnosed and treated in time.

Retinoblastoma has emerged as the most common paediatric intraocular problem affecting one in 20,000 children, necessitating modern treatment protocols like transpupillary thermotherapy.

Rajan Eye Care Hospital in T. Nagar has established a Paediatric Retina Clinic to focus its expertise on disorders such as retinoblastoma, intraocular tumours and retinopathy of prematurity that afflicts low-birth-weight babies exposed to high oxygen concentration while in incubators.

Advances in medicine have dramatically improved prognosis for retinoblastoma. "If the patient arrives early enough, we can save life, eye and vision," said Mohan Rajan, medical director of the hospital.

The clinic, which is headed by Mahesh Shanmugam, former associate professor of Chinese University, Hong Kong, has already successfully treated a three-year-old girl with the disorder.

Though some children with retinoblastoma may exhibit no symptoms, the disorders will be picked up by screening in children of families with a history of the condition. The trademark sign of the condition is often a white pupil that is opaque. Some children may have a squint or suffer a painful red eye in case the tumour is large.

The clinic will also tackle hereditary retinal dystrophies include retinitis pigmentosa, night blindness and cone dystrophy.

Meanwhile, a school-based ophthalmic screening programme launched by the hospital has found a myopia prevalence of 7.4 per cent in children under 12. The Refractive Errors Education and Prevention (REEP) project also found hypemetropia (long sight) prevalence to be 5.3 per cent and astigmatism 4.2 per cent.