Retinoblastoma is a rare cancer
of the retina. The retina is the innermost layer of the eye. It's located at the back
of the eye. It receives light and images needed for vision. About 250 children in
U.S. are diagnosed with this type of cancer each year. It mostly happens in children
younger than age 5. Most cases happen between infancy and age 2. Both boys and girls
are affected equally. Retinoblastoma can happen in either eye. But in about 1 in 4
cases, the tumor is in both eyes.
Symptoms of retinoblastoma may
Leukocoria. A white light
reflex that happens at certain angles when light is shown into the pupil.
Crossed eyes (strabismus).
This is when the eyes don’t line up with each other. One or both eyes don’t
seem to be looking in the same direction. It's also called wandering eye.
Pain, swelling, or redness
around the eyes.
Treatment for retinoblastoma may
include one or more of the following:
Surgery (removal of the
eye, which may be followed up with an artificial eye implant)
Heat treatment (uses
extreme heat directed toward cancer cells)
Laser therapy (uses light
to destroy the blood vessels that nourish the tumor)
Cryotherapy (uses a
freezing process to destroy the tumor)
Additional follow-up treatments
Fitting and training for a
prosthesis (artificial eye)
Blind or decreased vision
Supportive care (for the
side effects of treatment)
Antibiotics (to prevent or
To protect your child, the American Pediatric Association
recommends eye exams at all well-child visits. This means every age group, from
newborns to teenagers. If your child complains of any vision problems, or if you
notice vision-related issues, contact your healthcare provider right away.