The parents of a one-year-old boy told yesterday how a trip to the opticians saved his life – when an eye test revealed cancer in both his eyes.
Will and Georgina Plant took son Benjamin to a high street branch of Haine and Smith after noticing a ‘cats eye’ reflection in his pupils.
The optician was so concerned she immediately phoned the local hospital to refer the tot to a specialist, who later diagnosed Retinoblastoma in both his eyes.
Luckily the tumours were spotted early enough and Benjamin is expected to survive and retain his vision.
Praising the optician who spotted the symptoms, mum Georgina said: “If it hadn’t been for her speed of action we might not be in the same position now.
“The main message I would like to give to other parents is, if you have any concerns at all, go and get your child checked out.”
Will and Georgina, of Royal Wootton Bassett, Wilts., first noticed the reflection in their son’s eyes last spring.
Unbeknown to them, it is a classic sign of Retinoblastoma – a fast-growing form of cancer which develops in the cells of the retina.
They took Benjamin to the local branch of Haine and Smith in Royal Wootton Bassett and were immediately referred to hospital, despite it being the May Bank Holiday weekend.
Will said: “I asked my optometrist to look at Benjamin’s right eye because we were concerned about an odd, cats-eye reflection that we had noticed intermittently and under very specific lighting conditions and angles.
“On seeing something extremely serious that needed immediate investigation, the optometrist stayed on late to prepare a referral letter, and even phoned the hospital on the bank holiday Sunday to ensure Benjamin was seen by the ophthalmologist as soon as possible.”
An examination at the Great Western Hospital in Swindon, Wilts., revealed a loss of sight in Benjamin’s right eye that his parents had previously been unaware of.
After an examination under anaesthetic the family were referred to a specialist retinoblastoma clinic at the Royal London Hospital.
Retinoblastoma’s are graded based on their position and size, with a grade A being the least and E the most dangerous.
Doctors graded Benjamin’s right eye at D and the tumour in his left eye as an A because it had been caught early.
He has undergone a six cycle course of chemotherapy and given a greater than 99 per cent chance of survival.
Doctors expect the vision to be saved in his left eye and a 50/50 chance of saving his right eye and any remaining vision.
He has now completed his chemotherapy but is continuing to go to London every four to six weeks for monitoring and further treatment.
Will added: “Benjamin has coped well with all the trips to and from hospital and despite his illness is a lively, happy boy.”
Retinoblastoma develops in the cells of the retina – the light-sensitive lining of the eye – and generally affects children before the age of five.
The tell-tale signs most commonly include a white reflection in the pupil often noticed in photographs or dim lighting.
Children may also have a new squint, a change of colour to the iris or a red, sore or swollen eye without infection.