Sign our eye test petition, urge Norfolk mums

Two Norfolk mothers whose children were struck by a rare form of cancer want parents to sign a petition urging the government to introduce regular eye tests for babies.

Sam Boarder, of Colman Road, Norwich, and Sara Hammond, of Dereham, believe routine examinations could have stopped their youngsters each losing an eye to retinoblastoma (RB) – a cancer of the retina.

Ewan Boarder, three, was diagnosed with the disease aged two after his grandmother spotted an unusual white shadow on a photograph.

By that point the cancer had already spread to nearby blood vessels and he also needed chemotherapy.

Mrs Boarder, 32, said: 'The doctors said his tumour had been growing for months by then and an eye test would have picked it up much sooner.'

A squint raised alarms for Isobel Hammond's family last year. They took her for an eye test after realising she was struggling. The four-year-old now needs regular hospital checks.

Mrs Boarder has set up a Facebook group called 'petition for all babies and children under five to have eyes tested', calling on the government to introduce checks at an earlier age.

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Backed by Mrs Hammond, who also has two sons, Stephen, 11, and Isaac, 19 months, she wants parents to join and sign their name on the wall.

Mrs Boarder, who is also mum to five-year-old Elise, said: 'The disease occurs in children mainly under the age of five and doesn't really present itself after the age of five. At the moment, children don't have proper routine testing until they are at school. I want that changed.'

Mrs Hammond, 33, said: 'It's about saving other parents from going through what we had to go through. We also want to raise awareness. It's a rare and aggressive form of cancer.'

There are already 500 members on the Facebook group and Mrs Boarder wants that total to at least double before she sends the list of names to Downing Street. She said: 'The disease can be present from birth, so I want everyone to have tests when their children are babies and regular checks up to the age of five. A proper red reflex test could spot it.'

victoria.leggett@archant.co.uk