Retinoblastoma: Symptoms, Diagnosis And Treatment

Retinoblastoma is a type of cancer of the retina that affects the eye. It may occur at any age. Although adults and older kids can get retinoblastoma. It most often occurs in young children, most often diagnosed before the age of five years. With an estimated 300 children diagonsed in the United States with the disease each year. It may be one eye or in both eyes, if left untreated, is capable of spreading to other parts of the body like spine, liver, or brain.

There are two types of retinoblastoma. One type is inherited and other is non-inherited retinoblastoma. Non-inherited retinoblastoma is more common as compare to inherited form.



Symptoms of retinoblastoma are as follows:

Misaligned eyes
Pain around the eye
Enlarged eyeball
The eye appears white when light hits it
Blurred vision​


If left untreated, retinoblastoma can spread throughout the eye, including to the optic nerve. It can also move into the bone marrow and throughout the body, which makes it difficult to treat.

Once retinoblastoma is found, many test and physical exam will be done. A CT scan or MRI may be performed to determine if cancer has spread to other parts of the body. Additional testing may be done in some cases to find out whether cancer had spread to the bone marrow.



The treatment may depend on whether the disease is in one or both eyes or whether the cancer has spread outside the eyes. Treatment for retinoblastoma includes:


Remove the eye with the help of surgery, if only one eye is affected. The affected eyes are spared in future when it possible.


Chemotherapy may involve different types of drugs to destroy cell of cancer. Chemotherapy can be administered intravenously or in children it may be injected around the eye.

Laser Therapy

A laser is used to break the tumor. In some cases, a freezing treatment is also used to destroy the cancer cells. Laser therapy depends on the size of tumors in the eyes. Laser therapy may be the best option if the tumor size is small, or it may be used in conjunction with chemotherapy.

Radiation Therapy

Radiation involves high energy radiation from x-ray directed at the tumor to shrink it and destroy the cancer cells. Normally, radiation therapy is only administered to children with cancer that did not respond to other treatment.

Additional treatments, such as targeted therapies and clinical trials, may also be an option.

From all types of cancer treatment, therapies can have side effects, side effects in growing children can have long-lasting effects on development.



Unluckily, there is no other method to prevent retinoblastoma. Unlike other types of cancer, there are no changes in lifestyle or adjustment that decreases a chance of developing this type of cancer in children. However it’s helpful to know if you have a previous family history of retinoblastoma, which may make you more conscientious in noticing for symptoms.

Read more articles on eye diseases on Luster Eyes.

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