Mission Jeevan: Saving Eyes & Lives
Dr Sonal P Yadav provides an insight into retinoblastoma and our programme - Mission Jeevan that focuses on providing timely screening, counselling, financial aid, and treatment to children diagnosed with retinoblastoma
  • Retinoblastoma is the most common and life-threatening eye cancer in young children, new-born infants to 6 years of age. 
  • Each year, more than 8000 new cases of retinoblastoma are diagnosed all around the world, of which a third (over 2500) are diagnosed in India. 
  • If detected and treated appropriately; retinoblastoma can be cured with life as well as possible eye and vision salvage. 
  • With the advanced and improved technology available for diagnosis as well as management of retinoblastoma, eye cancer specialists have been successful in achieving good survival rates in children suffering from this eye cancer. 

Unfortunately, lack of awareness about this cancer has been the biggest barrier leading to delay in diagnosis. The delay in diagnosis often translates into advanced stage of disease at presentation and hence poor survival outcome. If the child is examined early by a child specialist (paediatrician) or eye doctor (ophthalmologist) and referred to an eye cancer specialist (ocular oncologist) for treatment, then the cancer can be controlled, and child’s life, eye and vision can be saved. 

Retinoblastoma treatment includes chemotherapy, laser, surgery (eye removal) and radiotherapy focusing on saving the child’s life and protecting their eye and vision. A child with one normal eye can still lead a fruitful life; without any interruption in routine activities and can attend a regular school with no complaints.

Studies have shown that the treatment ensures 95% of the children are saved from death, over 90% have their eye intact and over 85% have their vision protected. To save the child’s life and to prevent the spread of cancer to other parts of the body, the eye might have to be removed (enucleation) in advanced cases. A life-like custom made artificial eye can be then fitted on the child to ensure normal appearance.

Mission Jeevan

PBMA’s H V Desai Eye Hospital is happy to partner with Mission for Vision (MFV), a non-profit organisation working towards eradication of preventable blindless through enablement of high quality, comprehensive and equitable eye health. Our new initiative "Mission Jeevan" with MFV will provide timely screening, counselling, financial aid, and treatment to children diagnosed with retinoblastoma along with creating awareness among medical practitioners and the masses.

To achieve maximum tumour control with optimum rate of eye as well as vison salvage, early detection of retinoblastoma is key. Parents can notice the early tell-tale signs and visit their ophthalmologist or eye cancer specialist who will then perform further evaluation to diagnose this eye cancer. 

Common symptoms of Retinoblastoma seen are:

  • A shiny white reflex in one or both eyes (leukocoria)
  • Crossed eyes (squint/strabismus)
  • Swelling around the eyes and sudden redness of eyes 
  • Rapid vision loss noticed by frequent bumps into objects, inability to recognise family members, loss of interest in viewing television etc

Parents can take the child to an eye specialist if:

  • If there is a white glow in the child’s eye; if the eye shines (white glow) instead of red glow in a flash photograph
  • If the eyes are misaligned (crossed eyes/squint)
  • If the eye suddenly becomes red, swollen without apparent reason
  • There is a family history of eye cancer/loss of an eye due to an unknown cause in childhood

Note - The Department of Ocular Oncology at H V Desai Eye Hospital continues to treat retinoblastoma patients during the COVID-19 pandemic.

As a part of creating greater awareness on this topic and in conjunction with the Retinoblastoma Awareness Month, Mission for Vision along with H V Desai Eye Hospital and other sector experts hosted a webinar on 15th May 2021. A total of 170 people attended the webinar. The panellists included Dr Sonal Yadav (Ocular Oncologist, PBMA's H V Desai Eye Hospital, Pune), Dr Vibha Bafna (Paediatric Oncologist, Bharati Hospital and Research Centre, Pune), Dr Sucheta Kulkarni (Retina and Public Health Specialist, PBMA's H V Desai Eye Hospital, Pune) and moderated by Dr Aafrin Ansari (Senior Manager - Programme Development, Mission for Vision).

Here is the webinar recording: https://youtu.be/XYyQjAVnO-w


Dr Sonal P Yadav, MS

Consultant- Ophthalmic Plastic Surgery, Orbit and Ocular Oncology,

PBMA's H. V. Desai Eye Hospital, Pune

About the Author

Dr Sonal P Yadav is a trained ophthalmic plastic surgeon and ocular oncologist working at PBMA’s H V Desai Eye Hospital, Pune. She has been trained in diagnosing and treating retinoblastoma both in Hyderabad, India and New York, USA. She believes in utilising an evidence-based treatment protocol tailored for each child depending upon the stage of the disease; early and advanced intraocular retinoblastoma or orbital retinoblastoma to achieve optimum outcome.