The L V Prasad Eye Institute (LVPEI), a leading eye care centre in India, is organising the second edition of Whitathon on May 19, to spread awareness on white reflex, one of the most common symptoms of retinoblastoma.
White reflex in the child’s eye, which is very noticeable in photographs, is a sign of eye cancer. If parents notice a white reflex or squint, an urgent eye examination is recommended to rule out retinoblastoma. Early diagnosis can help save the eye through chemotherapy and focal treatment, thus saving the life, eye, and the vision of the child.
“In India alone, 1500 new cases of paediatric retinoblastoma cases are reported every year. Over 60 to 65% of these patients cannot afford the expense of the treatment,” said Dr Swathi Kaliki, Ocular Oncologist and Head – Operation Eyesight Universal Institute for Eye Cancer at L V Prasad Eye Institute.
The funds raised from the Whitathon Run will be utilized for treating poor children suffering from retinoblastoma free of cost, and to provide resources for future research to explore new treatment options for this alarming disease, according to an official release.
The Whitathon Run is a part of the annual World Retinoblastoma Awareness Week that will be observed this year from May 13-19.
Retinoblastoma is one of the rarer cancers prevalent today with the abnormality in the gene. In genetic cases, both eyes tend to be afflicted. The disease most commonly (90%) affects children below 3 years of age. 20 to 25% cases of eye cancer worldwide in children are from India, and 50% of cases worldwide lose their lives due to late detection and inadequate treatment. The incidence of the disease is 1 in 18,000 live births. Worldwide, every year we witness about 8,000 to 10,000 new cases.
The chances of survival of the child when retinoblastoma is confined to the eye is over 90%. The chances reduce to 70% when the tumour spreads beyond the eye. But if the tumour spreads into the brain, the chances of survival are very poor. Retinoblastoma is curable if the tumour is detected early, Dr Kaliki added
“Last year, LVPEI treated 1147 cases of retinoblastoma free of cost, thanks to the funds raised through Whitathon. This year we hope to attract over 5000 participants,” VVS Laxman, official brand ambassador for Whitathon 2019 said.