If this type of tumor gets over a certain size it can get into the retinal canal. Once outside the eye socket, it attacks the lymph nodes to the brain making it completely life threatening.
Luckily for Ben, local Eyes on Ardmore optometrist Danielle Ross caught the tumor in time. After an eye exam she quickly discovered the cancer and immediately referred him to Dunedin hospital.
It was in Dunedin that Ben’s mum Abi was told her son had cancer in his left eye. Less than 48 hours later they arrived in Christchurch where the doctors agreed that to save this boys life action need to be taken immediately. So it was without hesitation that Ben’s parents Abi and Wayne gave consent for the tumor, and his whole left eye, to be removed the following Thursday.
While the operation was a success and Ben is incredibly lucky to be alive, he can now only see out of his right eye. He has a prosthetic eye in the left socket, which looks so realistic that people need to be reminded he can’t see out of it. But looking at Ben closely it is noticeable that his eyes don’t move or focus together the way they should.
Physically in terms of sports and ball skills, he’ll be blind-sided throughout his life and has been advised not to play full contact sports. As he is a playful little guy, his parents and teachers do need to try and slow him down.
To lose one of the senses at such a young age has been a challenging and traumatic event for Ben and his experience was one of the main inspirations for Danielle to introduce the InfantSEE programme in her clinic. She is passionate about the health of little one’s eyes and hopes to give back to her community by offering free eye exams to all babies and toddlers under three.