Whitathon is an initiative by LV Prasad Eye Institute (LVPEI) to raise awareness about White Reflex, one of the most common symptoms of Retinoblastoma – a life threatening eye cancer in children. The second edition of the awareness run is being organised on May 19 this year withVVS Laxman as the official brand ambassador. The funds raised from the Whitathon Run will be utilized for treating poor children suffering from Retinoblastoma free of cost, and to provide resources for future research to explore new treatment options for this alarming disease. The Whitathon Run is a part of the annualWorld Retinoblastoma Awareness Week that will be observed this year from May 13-19, and SunRisers Hyderabad, the Indian Premier League (IPL) team is expected to grace the occasion of unveiling the Whitathon 2019 T-shirt.
Retinoblastoma is one of the rarer cancers prevalent today with the abnormality in the gene being congenital (present at birth) in some cases. In genetic cases, both eyes tend to be afflicted. Retinoblastoma, most commonly (90%) affects children below 3 years of age. 20 to 25% cases of eye cancer worldwide in children are from India, and 50% of cases worldwide lose their lives due to late detection and inadequate treatment. The incidence of the disease is 1 in 18,000 live births. Worldwide, every year we witness about 8,000 to 10,000 new cases.
VVS Laxman, official brand ambassador for Whitathon 2019 said, “Last year, LVPEI treated 1147 cases of retinoblastoma free of cost, thanks to the funds raised through Whitathon. This year we hope to attract over 5000 participants. I am happy to be associated with this cause related Run meant to create awareness and help raise funds. Let no child die of eye cancer because of lack of awareness and treatment.”
Details on the Run categories and registration fee:
ü 3K Fun Run – ₹500
ü 5K (Timed Run) – ₹750
ü 10K (Timed Run) – ₹900
To register log on to: https://www.ifinish.in/event_
Dr SwathiKaliki, Ocular Oncologist and Head – Operation Eyesight Universal Institute for Eye Cancer at L V Prasad Eye Institute said, “In India alone, 1500 new cases of Paediatric Retinoblastoma cases are reported every year. This adds to the socio-economic burden of cancer care. Over the past decade, LVPEI has treated more than 2000 patients with retinoblastoma eye cancer. Over 60 to 65%of these patients cannot afford the expense of the treatment, and LVPEI subsidizes it at no cost to the poor patient’s family. LVPEI treats 150 to 200 new cases every year, of which 40% are in late stages and 10% are in very late stages. The chances of survival of the child when retinoblastoma is confined to the eye is over 90%. The chances reduce to 70% when the tumor spreads beyond the eye. But if the tumour spreads into the brain, the chances of survival are very poor. Retinoblastoma is curable if the tumour is detected early.”
White reflex in the child’s eye, which is very noticeable in photographs, is a sign of eye cancer. If parents notice a white reflex or squint, an urgent eye examination is recommended to rule out retinoblastoma. Early diagnosis can help save the eye through chemotherapy and focal treatment, thus saving the life, eye, and the vision of the child.
It is time to make detailed eye check-ups a part of mandatory paediatric examinations.There is a need for increased awareness about this life-threatening disease among parents. When the disease is detected early, it is curable. Life, eye, and vision can be salvaged with appropriate treatment.