'Eye cancer can be cured'

'Eye cancer can be cured'

“Nearly 40 per cent of children suffering from Retinoblastoma are at risk. Any person with one eye or both the eyes affected with this tumour can transfer the same to their children. The bright side is that retinoblastoma is curable,” said Shetty.

Saifullah Khan, a carpenter, had an eye disease which was passed on to his daughter and son. Although his daughter succumbed to eye cancer, his son Mohiuddin (2) was fortunate enough to get treated for retinoblastoma which was diagnosed when he was just seven months old. Mohiuddin was not only saved from blindness, but also death with medical intervention by the Nethralaya. 

Eye cancer occurs because of a mutation in the retinoblastoma gene which could prove fatal if not treated on time. Retinoblastoma is the third most common cancer among children, with an occurrence rate of one in 20,000 births. Nearly 2,000 children are affected by this disease every year in India. Many cases are detected at an advanced stage due to lack of awareness, he added.

The Nethralaya has been receiving several cases of genetic eye diseases from north Karnataka - mainly Bellary, Raichur, Davangere and Gulbarga - in recent times and consanguineous marriages (among cousins, relatives) are said to be one of the chief reasons.

Although it is a known fact that offsprings from such marriages are prone to genetic disorders, awareness among the people, especially in rural areas, is still very low.

Dr Rohit Shetty, director of the Nethralaya, says that there are nearly 1,300 genetic disorders identified till date, of which 191 are eye disorders.