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Retinoblastoma is a rare form of eye cancer found in children, the first signs of which are usually seen from a very young age. There are around 45 cases diagnosed each year in the UK, affecting children under the age of 6.

What is Retinoblastoma?

It is a form of childhood cancer that develops in the cells of the retina, the light sensitive lining of the eye. Retinoblastoma has one of the best survival rates of all the childhood cancers. Around 98 per cent of children in the UK will survive, but early diagnosis is really important. If you see one or more of the signs of retinoblastoma, be sure to get your child’s eyes checked urgently just to be safe. Here are some tell-tale signs of Retinoblastoma that you can look out for.

White eye or No Red Eye

In a photo where a flash has been used you might see a white glow in the eye, sometimes described as a ‘cat’s eye’, a white pupil or white reflection. It can sometimes be seen when your child is in artificial light or a darkish room too.
While it is more common to see a white reflection in some cases one eye may look black in a photo where the other eye has “red eye” (which is normal). Both can be a sign that something is not right.

White Eye - Retinoblastoma


A squint is where the eyes do not look in the same direction and can sometimes be a symptom of retinoblastoma. For most cases, it’s nothing more than a squint but you should have your child checked just in case.

Squint - Retinoblastoma


Change in Iris colour

Some people can have different coloured eyes, known as Heterochromia. Although uncommon it isn’t anything to be concerned about. However Heterochromia is present from birth, so if you notice that the iris (the coloured part of the eye) in one eye has started to change colour, sometimes only in one area, book an appointment straight away to have your child’s eyes checked.

Change in Iris Colour - Retinoblastoma

Red, Sore or Swollen eye

Your child’s eye may become very red and inflamed for no obvious reason – and with no sign of infection. This symptom is usually accompanied by one or more of the other signs listed here.

Deterioration in Sight

Your child’s vision may begin to deteriorate, or they might have poor vision from birth. You may notice that they don’t focus, fix or follow as well as other children of the same age. If you are concerned book an appointment with your Optician or GP to get them checked.

You can find more information on Retinoblastoma and the treatments available on these sites:

Childhood Eye Cancer Trust

Alternatively if you’ve noticed one of these symptoms or are concerned about your child’s vision you can get in touch with me to discuss further.


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