MUMS often have to nag their sons to clean their teeth before bed – but few have to remind them to clean their false eye as well.
That’s what Melanie Cassidy does every night after son Edward had his right eye removed to beat a rare and potentially lethal tumour.
Now, with a convincing plastic replacement which he calls his "magic eye", three-year-old Ed-ward’s outlook is bright.
Back in December 2007 Melanie and her 36-year-old husband Gary, of Washington Street, Accrington, were stunned to learn their only child, who they had waited eight years to conceive, had developed eye cancer.
The news was a hammer blow the week before Christmas – but in fact the long dark nights might have saved his life.
Melanie, 44, explained: "The retina becomes detached. Because it was dark we had the lights on and the electric light reflecting in his eye made it a lot more obvious.
"We didn’t have a clue what it was and we were shocked when the consultant in Blackburn said they suspected it was a tumour. It was our worst nightmare.
"The tumour develops down the optic nerve and if not caught in time it goes into the brain and unfortunately that’s it. It’s horrific."
Edward underwent a three-hour operation at the Royal London Hospital early last year and still travels south for consultations every 12 weeks.
The exact condition, which can have both genetic and non-genetic causes, affects only 40 or 50 children nationwide every year and only two hospitals in the UK can treat it.
It mainly affects children under five but has a very high rate of cure if caught early, when radiotherapy can avert the last resort of surgery.
Melanie, who works on the counters at Accrington’s Asda store, said that one red eye and one white eye in photographs can also be a tell-tale sign.
Edward is now well settled at First Class Nursery in Cannon Street, Accrington, and doctors have helped him to relate to his condition by giving him a one-eyed dinosaur.
Set on a coral implant, the artificial eye is made of hard plastic and has to be cleaned every night using baby shampoo and boiling water.
In the future he may be advised to protect his remaining eye by avoiding contact sports and he will not be able to serve in the Armed Forces, but mainly he is just like other children his age.
Melanie added: "It’s good to know that kids can live with all sorts of disabilities and just be perfectly normal."
l For more information on eye cancer visit the Childhood Eye Cancer Trust website at www.chect.org.uk.