What is Retinoblastoma?


Retinoblastoma is a rare form of eye cancer which generally affects children under 5 years old. It is treatable but if signs are noticed they must be checked out quickly. The signs of the condition include a white reflex in the pupil of the eye, often noticed in a photo or just occasionally in low lighting conditions. Other signs can be; a change in the colour of one iris (the coloured part of the eye), a red or swollen eye without infection, an absence of ‘red eye’ in only one eye in a photo and a deterioration in vision. A squint can also be a symptom but usually accompanies other signs and can also be completely unrelated to this condition.

Retinoblastoma affects about 50 children in the UK each year so it is rare. Many of the signs mentioned above may also be signs of less severe conditions so if you notice any of the signs above, get your child checked quickly, if only to rule out retinoblastoma and have peace of mind.

The signs to look out for

  1. A white reflex: A white reflexion can be seen in a photograph where the flash has been used. Often one eye will have “red eye” which is normal but the other eye may look white, yellow or orange. This may be seen in just one or many photographs of the child.
  2. A squint: A squint can be a sign of retinoblastoma, although a squint can also be nothing more than a squint. It is always worth having it checked out quickly just to make sure. Some people call a squint a “lazy eye”; it is where one or both eyes look in or out.
  3. Red, sore or swollen eye without infection: A child’s eye may become very red and enflamed for no reason. This sign is usually linked with other signs.
  4. A change in colour to the iris: The iris, the coloured part of the eye, can sometimes change colour in one eye, sometimes only in one area.
  5. An absence of ‘red eye’ in flash photographs: In a photograph where one eye has ‘red eye’ (which is normal) the other eye may look black or looks ‘wrong’. This can also be a sign that something is not right.
  6. Deterioration in vision: A child may have deterioration in their vision or they may have had poor vision from birth. You may notice that your child does not focus or fix & follow as well as other children or babies of the same age.

For further information about Retinoblastoma visit www.chect.org.uk

If you have noticed one or more of the signs above always take your child to have their eyes examined.


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