Stepney dad’s eye diagnosis campaign pays off

Fuad Mohammed with his daughter Shakila

Fuad Mohammed with his daughter Shakila - Credit: Archant

A father is confident his three year campaign to change guidelines for the diagnosis of eye problems in ethnic minority children is about to pay off.

Fuad Mohammed started his crusade after his daughter Shakila was diagnosed with aniridia – the absence of the iris – which causes partial loss of sight and means she must wear protective glasses.

The Stepney resident called on health authorities to change guidelines to ensure differences between white and ethnic minority childrens’ eyes were highlighted. He insisted current literature fails to take them into account.

And Mr Mohammed has hailed a breakthrough in his campaign after the NHS Newborn and Infant Physical Examination (NIPE) programme said training methods were to be amended.

“It’s taken me three years to successfully get a firm commitment for NIPE to change their guidelines,” said the Avis Square resident.

“My daughter was my inspiration even when it looked like I was getting nowhere.

“I can’t believe my one man crusade has now got me to influence the relevant people and organisations to make change,” he added.

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In the “red reflex test” for childrens’ eyes, doctors are currently told to look out for a red colouring in the eye when identifying problems. But Mr Mohammed said experts have found black babies with eye problems usually have an orange tint in their eyes.

And NIPE confirmed these differences would shortly be reflected in training given to GPs.

A spokesman said: “Mr Mohammed has raised the issue that the red reflex test may be harder to interpret in babies from certain ethnic groups which have more pigmented retinas

“We are currently finalising an online training package for clinicians who undertake the newborn physical examination and thanks to Mr Mohammed we have included information about this,” he added.