About Retinoblastoma:

Retinoblastoma is a type of eye cancer that begins in the retina, the light-sensitive tissue at the back of the eye. It is extremely rare and most often affects infants and young children. Retinoblastoma is treatable in the early stages, but like most cancers, can spread slowly over time. It can occur in one eye or both eyes.


It is not known what causes most retinoblastoma cases. It is thought to affect more children than adults because it can be caused by abnormalities in development. In most babies, the retina cells grow quickly and then suddenly stop. But in some cases, the cells do not stop growing. Instead, they create a cancerous mass.

The few cases of retinoblastoma that can be explained are due to genetic mutations or inherited disorders.

The symptoms of retinoblastoma are:

  • Bright white circle in the center of the pupil
  • Squint 
  • Change in the color of the iris (the colored part of the eye)
  • Red eyes
  • Inflammation
  • Poor vision (this can be hard to detect, but children may have trouble following objects)

Treatment Options

Treatment depends on the size of the tumor, its effect on vision, and how life-threatening it may be.

Small tumors:

  • Laser treatment to the tumor cells
  • Freezing the tumor

Larger tumors:

  • Radiotherapy: Destroying tumor cells by shooting them with high energy radiation beams.
  • Chemotherapy: Injecting drugs that destroy the rapidly dividing tumor cells
  • Surgery: Removing the affected eye and its tumor. The eye will be replaced with an prosthetic eye 

Different treatments will have different side effects. Eye removal is only advised if there is no way of saving the eye or if the cancer shows signs of spreading to the rest of the body.

Many cases of retinoblastoma can be detected early. Cases that are found early have a very good prognosis. Most patients can be cured of the disease before it spreads past the eyeball. If the disease spreads beyond the eye, it is much more difficult to treat. For this reason, you should always bring your child to an eye doctor if you detect any changes in their eyes or vision.