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CANSA TLC Programme – Artificial Eye Support

Retinoblastoma is the 2nd most prevalent childhood cancer diagnosis amongst black children in Southern-Africa. Although rare, loss of an eye due to cancer, can also be caused by some soft tissue or bone cancers that occur in the region of the eye. This diagnosis often leads to the loss of one or both eyes.

Sadly, many children in South-Africa still are diagnosed when the disease is at an advanced stage, and it is not possible to save their eye(s), as saving their lives remains the priority.

As part of the treatment plan children may receive surgery, chemotherapy and radiation. Where two eyes are affected, specialists will try to save the best eye if possible. Treatment for this takes place in specialised treatment units. Brachytherapy is a form of internal radiation therapy, whereby the radiation is temporarily implanted or placed at the affected area. In the case of an eye this treatment protects the surrounding areas from receiving radiation.

When the child has completed treatment and is in remission, it is time to consider options for an artificial eye.

The making and fitting of prosthetic eyes is done by an occularist. They need to measure the size of the socket and may initially insert a temporary conformer to prevent distorting or shrinking of the eye socket. Matching the shape, colour and size of the eye is very important to make it look as normal as possible.

Different prostheses are available depending on the type or surgery that took place. After the initial fitting the eye will be removed to be reshaped according to the best fit in the socket. The procedure may take a few hours or require a follow up, depending on the type of prosthesis offered.

It is a blessing to be part of the process to help children to recover and find their space in the community to continue life to the best of their ability.

CANSA TLC raises funds for prosthetic support that includes artificial eye support, for children and teens.

Requests for Prosthetic Support

For more information or if in your child needs an eye after cancer treatment, you are welcome to contact Vera van Dalen on tlc@cansa.org.za

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