As part of World Retinoblastoma Awareness Week 2019 (12-18 May), the Childhood Eye Cancer Trust (CHECT) is asking health visitors to familiarise themselves with the main signs and symptoms of retinoblastoma (Rb), and the correct referral procedure, in order to aid quick diagnosis of the condition.

Retinoblastoma - image courtesy of CHECT

Retinoblastoma – image courtesy of CHECT

According to a survey carried out on behalf of CHECT, 35% of parents of children aged 0-6 have asked their health visitor to check their child’s eyes, compared to 29% in 2014 – over a quarter (26%) say their child’s eye health is one of their greatest concerns.

Patrick Tonks, Chief Executive of the Childhood Eye Cancer Trust, said:

“Retinoblastoma is a rare, aggressive eye cancer which affects babies and children under the age of six. We know health visitors are a key source of information and support for parents of this age group, so we are asking them to take five minutes this World Retinoblastoma Awareness Week to familiarise themselves with the most common signs and symptoms of Rb. Over 90% of children diagnosed with Rb will survive, but more than half will lose an eye in order to save their life, so urgent referral and early diagnosis is vital to save a child’s sight, eyes and life.”

The main signs of retinoblastoma are:

  • A white glow in the pupil or a white reflection in the pupil in flash photographs
  • A new squint
  • A change in the colour of the iris
  • A deterioration in vision

Rarely, retinoblastoma may present as a red, sore or swollen eye without other signs of infection such as discharge. Any of these signs in isolation can indicate retinoblastoma. Around one child a week in the UK is diagnosed with retinoblastoma.

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National Eye Health Week (24-30 September 2018) is a key point in the year for the Childhood Eye Cancer Trust (CHECT), a charity supporting the families of babies and children affected by a rare form of eye cancer called retinoblastoma, to raise awareness of their work with healthcare professionals, especially health visitors and GPs.

Retinoblastoma - image courtesy of CHECT

Retinoblastoma – image courtesy of CHECT

Over half of babies affected by retinoblastoma (childhood eye cancer) currently experience delays in their diagnosis – and CHECT wants to reduce this. Because retinoblastoma is a cancer which primarily affects babies and pre-school children, health visitors have a key role to play in identifying and referring potential concerns.

Further to our work last year with CHECT to develop a GPP on retinoblastoma, please take the the time to test your knowledge of retinoblastoma (childhood eye cancer) with a short questionnaire from CHECT: