The Eyes have it (Soup Diaries #04)

by George on 27 January 2013

Too much Caffeine?

My turn at the homeless shelter again and I take the middle shift. Sleep eludes me until it seems the last few minutes before my alarm goes off. I am in the kitchen again playing at Widow Twankey but all the washing and drying is done this time.

The stories from last week when I was off don’t help me get to sleep. 8am last Sunday morning and the guests are supposed to leave. But it’s snowing and surprise, surprise they want to stay until the last minute and are not allowed any extension. Seems this hardness is not unique where helping others is concerned. On a visit to my local library, I pick up Sally Becker’s story Sunflowers and Snipers Few reads have made me so angry. After selling practically all she owns, Sally goes to the former Yugoslavia to rescue injured children. Progress is seriously hampered by the United Nations where the bigwigs concerned are on six-figure tax-free salaries and gold-plated pensions.

Children die while waiting for paperwork to be completed. The International Organisation of Migration makes the injured children wait in war zones until all the paperwork is completed rather than moving them to safety where they can get medical care, and doing the paperwork later.

The UK finances 8.15% of the UN peace-keeping budget amounting to US$597 million a year and this does not include other UN expenses.

The Child with Green Eyes

But what’s really bugging me this week for some strange reason is a rare but aggressive form of eye-cancer retinoblastoma which I first came across in Siddhartha Mukherjee’s Cancer Opus The Emperor of all Maladies Fortunately, it is very rare in the UK with only about 40 cases a year accounting for about 3 per cent of child cancer cases. Nearly all cases are in children under 5 years old and the success rate is the highest for any UK cancer at 99 per cent. It is also an easy one to detect.

With the advent of affordable colour photography since the 1970s, red-eye has been an annoyance. The redness in the centre of the eye comes from the flashlight being reflected off the red bloodvessels in the retina at the back of the eye, usually indicating that the retina is healthy. Some modern cameras have a double flash feature to prevent red-eye – the first milder flash causes the iris to shrink before the more powerful main flash. With retinoblastoma, a green tinge rather like a cats eye or other unusual pigment will show.

More information here at Childhood Eye Cancer Trust and this case study from today’s Daily Mail makes sobering reading.


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