Even children get eye cancer. Twice in my career I have seen ocular cancer. One was a case of choroidal melonoma in an adult. One was a case of retinoblastoma – a rare but serious type of cancer that if not detected and treated is fatal by age 5. Fortunately, in both cases, the cancer didn’t spread to any other part of the body, but the eye had to be removed (called enucleation). And they are at greater risk of cancer for the rest of their lives.
Obviously, cancer is a horrible thing for anyone to go through. But it is especially awful for the youngest patients who have not had the opportunity to experience many healthy years of life and do not understand what is happening.
On March 31st, I will be running the Warrior Dash. It is a 5K race. In the mud. Over Walls. Under fences. Through rings of fire. As part of the race, my friend, George Lopez, and I have pledged to raise money for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. The mission of St. Jude’s is to find cures, and means of prevention, for pediatric catastrophic diseases through research and treatment. No child is denied treatment based on race, religion or a family’s ability to pay.
To support St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital we are fundraising in two ways:
- For every pair of sunglasses we sell between now and the end of March, we will donate $5.00 towards the St. Jude’s Goal.
- We are asking for donations from our friends, colleagues, family, and patients. Simply click on the “Give Now” Button below.
Thank you for your support. You can track our progress here.
Nathan Bonilla-Warford, OD
This is a great example of how the tools of social media can have very significant real-world positive effects.
Retinoblastoma is a very serious eye cancer. It only affects children. This is because its kills everyone who has it by five years of age. Because the eyes are connected directly with the brain, the cancer takes over the eye, then the brain and continues to spread until the victim dies.
Surprisingly, most retinobastoma is not found by a pediatrician or eye doctor, but by a friend or family member who sees something wrong with the child’s eyes. Usually this is either a white-look pupil or an eye turn.
Recently the Daily Mail newspaper in England reported this exact scenario: A friend did see a problem with 2 year old Grace’s eyes. It turned out to be retinoblastoma, which was successfully treated. But here is the twist: the friend, a nurse, saw the problem via a photo on Facebook.
In addition to the fantastic result for Grace, there are two other points here. The first is that social media will continue to help improve education and medical care over time and this is an early example. The second is that thorough, early eye exams are a good idea. The American Optometric Association recommends exams at 6 months of age, three years of age, and before kindergarten. The InfantSEE program supports this by providing no-cost eye exams to patients between the ages of 6 and 12 months.
If you have a young child, be sure to schedule an appointment with your optometrist. You never know what problems might be found.
Retinoblastoma can be devastating, even fatal. This is an amazing story about one very brave boy, Jake Olson.
Nathan Bonilla-Warford, OD
Bright Eyes Family Vision Care
Located in the Westchase area of Tampa.