At Fraser Eye Care, our pediatric ophthalmologist Dr. Lucas Bonafede is experienced in diagnosing children with retinoblastoma. If you are seeking pediatric eye care in the Metro Detroit area, you can trust Dr. Bonafede and the team at Fraser Eye for compassionate and comprehensive care.
What is Retinoblastoma?
Pediatric retinoblastoma is a rare childhood cancer that affects the retina. The retina is a layer of photosensitive nerve tissue located at the back of the eye. The retina processes light and delivers signals to the optic nerve in order to create visual images. Retinoblastoma causes tumors to grow on the retina. Each year, approximately 300 children are diagnosed with retinoblastoma; fortunately, the prognosis for this disease is good with early detection and treatment.1
Symptoms of Retinoblastoma
Retinoblastoma often affects babies and very young children, so symptoms may not be apparent. One way that retinoblastoma is often detected is in photographs, which can show a telltale white-appearing pupil.
Symptoms of retinoblastoma may include:
- A white spot in the center of the eye (leukocoria)
- Redness or swelling around the eyes
- Poor vision or changes in vision
- Strabismus a misalignment of the eyes
What Causes Retinoblastoma?
In many cases of retinoblastoma it cannot be determined what causes the genetic mutation that leads to this pediatric cancer. In some cases, there is a genetic link that can be traced to the child’s parents. Inherited retinoblastoma tends to occur in both eyes, rather than just one eye, and it is often diagnosed at an earlier age.2 If either parent of an infant has a family history of retinoblastoma, regular ophthalmic screenings are advised.
Treatment for Retinoblastoma
There are a number of treatments available for retinoblastoma. The treatment plan for your child will depend on a number of factors, including age, medical history, and the severity of the disease. The ultimate goal of any treatment plan is to destroy the tumor and prevent the cancer from spreading to other places in the body. Treatment is typically collaborative, so your pediatric ophthalmologist will work closely with ocular-oncologists and other pediatric cancer specialists.
Possible treatments for retinoblastoma include:
- Radiation treatment
- Laser therapy
- Surgery to remove the affected eye may be required in some cases (enucleation)
With early diagnosis and treatment, chances of full recovery are often favorable. However, children who have been diagnosed with retinoblastoma are at a higher risk of future vision problems and other cancers, so ongoing monitoring is important.3
We understand how frightening or stressful this type of diagnosis can be, but early diagnosis and comprehensive treatment are key to preserving vision and health for your child. Dr. Bonafede and our team will discuss any concerns you have and guide you through your treatment options. Contact us with any questions or to schedule an appointment.
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1 Children’s National Hospital. Pediatric Retinoblastoma. Available: https://childrensnational.org/visit/conditions-and-treatments/cancer/retinoblastoma Accessed September 10, 2021
2 Mayo Clinic. Retinoblastoma. Available: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/retinoblastoma/symptoms-causes/syc-20351008 Accessed September 10, 2021.
3 PDQ® Pediatric Treatment Editorial Board. PDQ Retinoblastoma Treatment. Bethesda, MD: National Cancer Institute. Available: https://www.cancer.gov/types/retinoblastoma/patient/retinoblastoma-treatment-pdq. Accessed September 10, 2021.
Dr. Lucas Bonafede has either authored or reviewed and approved this content.
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