Kathmandu, May 24
German couple Gregor Koenig and Monika Koenig recently handed over laser technology equipment necessary for retinoblastoma treatment to Tilganga Institute of Ophthalmology.
They also donated fundus camera for easy and early detection of the disease among children living in the rural areas of the country. “Fundus camera is capable of illuminating and imaging the retina simultaneously. It can be operated by technicians and can be connected with phones. Fundus photography can be done by any primary care professional. It will be helpful in paediatric eye screening,” said Gregor.
Any technical staffer or layman can learn to take picture with fundus camera. Children are normally taken to hospitals only after the disease spreads to other body parts.
“We donated the equipment so that children receive early treatment. Children in Nepal are losing their life due to retinoblastoma. Early treatment can save the lives of hundreds of children,” said Monika, adding that one of her daughters had survived the disease.
Retinoblastoma — a rare kind of cancer in eye with the abnormality in the gene mostly affects infants and children. Retinoblastoma may occur in one or both eyes. It begins in the retina, the layer of nerve cells lining the back of the eye. It happens when nerve cells in retina change, grow in size and number. These cells usually spread in and around the eye. There are high chances for the disease spreading to other body parts, brain and spine.
The couple also plans to provide fundus camera to 20 clinics in the country. “Any kind of white colour in the centre of the eye shouldn’t be ignored as this is a symptom of retinoblastoma,” said Monica.
The disease doesn’t have many symptoms when it occurs. There is an occurrence of white colour in the centre of the eye (pupil), eyes appear to be looking in different directions, and redness and swelling are some of the symptoms. However, these symptoms often go unnoticed.
They have advised the parents to be aware of the symptoms and take children immediately to the health centres for early treatment. Seventy per cent of the children suffering from retinoblastoma face death as they do not get treatment on time.
A version of this article appears in print on May 25, 2018 of The Himalayan Times.