Al-Shifa to begin genetic testing to prevent childhood eye cancer.

Al-Shifa Trust Eye Hospital announced Thursday that genetic testing is being planned to prevent and control eye cancer in children. To this end, a genetic testing lab is under construction and will start functioning in five months. Pakistan is witnessing a high prevalence of eye cancer in children as compared to neighbouring countries; therefore, the trust has decided to redouble its efforts to combat the menace, it said.

Prof. Dr. Tayyab Afghani, consultant and HOD of Orbit and Oculoplastic Department at Al-Shifa Trust Eye Hospital, said that about 700 children with eye cancer are treated annually at various trust facilities.

This number is double that of neighbouring India. India registers only 2000 children per annum with eye cancer while its population is five times larger than Pakistan, he added.

He informed that genetic testing of parents can help control this occurrence in future generations. Genetic tests can be done on a tissue sample removed during a biopsy or surgery.

These tests provide information about how likely cancer will be possible in children, he informed.

Prof Dr Tayyab Afghani said timely detection could restore sight as the problem gets more complicated and may cause vision loss, loss of the eye, or even total blindness.

Eye cancer should not be taken lightly, and a doctor must be consulted without delay as the number of people with eye cancer is on the rise. Still, he added that patients are brought to hospitals only in the final stages of the problem.

Afghani said most children facing eye cancer belong to low-income families living in remote areas, and healthcare facilities are not available to them as specialized eye hospitals are not located near them.

He said that some tumours are incurable, while others may severely disfigure eyes, requiring complex surgical procedures. However, eye problems due to cancer need more time and effort to be treated.

The genetic testing lab building is under construction on the premises of Rawalpindi Eye Hospital, and all the equipment has been purchased. Genetic tests will guide parents about the possibility of high chances of eye cancer in children in advance, he said.

Sharing is caring

Leave a Reply