What is Retinoblastoma?
Retinoblastoma is an extremely rare form of cancer of the immature cells of the retina, therefore almost exclusively targeting young children. Although life threatening, most children survive the cancer, however because most cases of the disease are discovered at an advanced stage, the treatment is devastating, necessitating the removal of the affected eye or eyes. In the latter case, this obviously means lifelong blindness. In less severe cases, chemotherapy may be used in an attempt to preserve eye sight.
What Causes Retinoblastoma?
It is believed to be caused by gene mutations, and may occur in one or both eyes.
How Common is Retinoblastoma?
Worldwide incidence is thought to affect one person in every 18,000 – 30,000.
How Serious is Retinoblastoma?
Retinoblastoma is extremely serious and constitutes a medical emergency. It is life threatening as it can spread fast down the optic nerve to the brain.
How Can You Check If You Have Retinoblastoma?
An eye care practitioner, such as an optometrist or ophthalmologist, can detect the disease by examining the internal structures of the eye through the pupil, however there are some obvious signs that may be visible to a doctor, and even a parent.
What Are Some Symptoms Your Child May Have Retinoblastoma?
The appearance of a white pupil (leukocoria), or a recently turned eye, are both signs that may indicate the presence of Retinoblastoma. Because the affected children are quite young, often symptoms are not easily reported, however the main one is reduced vision, and in some cases a red irritated eye where intra-ocular pressure has been raised by the tumour.
Early detection for all eye diseases is recommended.