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Leukocoria And Retinoblastoma

Question of the Week

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Updated November 16, 2004

Q. We just received digital pictures of a mountain trip, and in one of the pictures my daughter's left eye appears to have a white dot instead of red. I am wondering if that is a possible sign of tumor like I have heard on programs before? And who I contact to find out more? Angel, Gastonia, NC

A. It is normal for a child's eye to appear red in a photograph. This is the common 'red-eye' that we all see in photos and it is the same as the red reflex that your Pediatrician checks for in young children.

A child's pupil shouldn't appear to be white though. It is called leukocoria when it is and it can be a sign of retinoblastoma, a tumor inside a child's eye.

You can see a number of red eye photos on this site dedicated to Retinoblastoma awareness. It is not uncommon for parents to notice their child's retinoblastoma by noticing something is wrong or different in their photos. Often, parents notice a white reflex in the pupil, instead of the normal red reflex.

Keep in mind that not all photos have red eye in them, but in general, if one eye has red eye, the other one should too. And there have also been cases of children who had leukocoria in just eye in a photograph and ended up having totally normal eyes.

And there are other conditions, like cataracts, that can cause a pupil to appear white.

At this point, you likely should see your Pediatrician and/or a Pediatric Ophthalmologist for an evaluation.

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