- One pupil appears white when light is shined into it.
- In photos, blood vessels in the back of the eye will normally reflect red. If the eye appears white instead, that could be a sign of retinoblastoma.
- Eyes may not move or focus in the same direction.
- Eye pain is sometimes present.
- Pupil may be constantly dilated.
- Eye may constantly be red.
Retinoblastoma is caused by a gene mutation, which either develops after conception or is passed along from a parent. Retinoblastoma, first diagnosed more than 2,000 years ago, is the most common type of eye tumor seen in children.
Retinoblasts are rapidly growing cells in the eye that begin to develop very early in the womb. These cells become the retina, the light-sensing portion of the eye. In rare cases, the cells continue reproducing and form a tumor on the retina. These tumors may remain in the vitreous humor, the jellylike substance that fills the eyeball, or break off and spread to other parts of the eye, then outside to the lymph nodes and other organs.
Who Gets Retinoblastoma?
According to the Retinoblastoma.com, 90% of all children who develop retinoblastoma are the first in their family to have eye cancer.
About 40% of all cases are inherited, and the cancer occurs most often in children under 5. Not often seen in adults, retinoblastoma affects boys and girls in equal numbers. There are approximately 350 new diagnosed cases per year in the United States, making it the seventh most common pediatric cancer. It affects one in every 15,000 to 30,000 live babies of all backgrounds born in the US. More than 95 percent of children treated for retinoblastoma in the US are cured.
An eye exam and imaging test can diagnose retinoblastoma if it is suspected. Other tests may be used to determine the stage of the disease and/or how far it has spread. These tests typically include ultrasound, MRI scans, CT scans, bone scans, spinal tap and bone marrow tests.
The nonprofit Retinoblastoma International recommends that all children have their pupils dilated, to screen for retinoblastoma and other ocular diseases.
A Parent's Guide to Understanding Retinoblastoma