Every parent dreads to hear the word “cancer”, but cancer has a high prevalence in the United States and early detection can greatly reduce the severity of the illness and increase life expectancy.

Retinoblastoma is a cancerous tumor of the retina, the thin nerve tissue lining the back of the eye, which senses light and forms images.  This disease occurs most commonly in younger children, usually before the age of five.  Each year about 300 children are diagnosed with retinoblastoma in the United States.  Retinoblastoma accounts for about 3 percent of childhood cancers.  Approximately 75 percent of cases occur in only one eye, and 25 percent occur in both eyes. Adults can also develop retinoblastoma however, it is extremely rare.

Symptoms of Retinoblastoma:

  • Opaque white area in the pupil (leukocoria), caused by reflection of light off the tumor in the retina.
  • Noted in photographs as a white pupil reflex as opposed to a more commonly seen red reflex.
  • Problems with eye movement. (eyes may cross)
  • Decreased vision in one eye.
  • Eye pain
  • Pink eye

Several procedures are used to diagnose retinoblastoma, including a complete funduscopic eye exam, in which the pupils are dilated so the retina can be examined.  Other procedures that may be performed if there is suspicion of retinoblastoma are a CT scan, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), blood tests and/or genetic testing.

At Cockrell Eyecare Center we also utilize another tool called the OPTOMAP retinal exam.  The OPTOMAP takes a photograph of the inside of the eye with a 200 degree field of view allowing full simultaneous observation of the retina.  In addition, computerized manipulation of the photograph to enhance specific areas of the retina is possible to evaluate suspect findings.  Both the doctor and the patient or patient’s family members can evaluate the photograph together.  The procedure is very easy for the patient, it is non-contact, and takes seconds to perform.

If diagnosed with Retinoblastoma, the ultimate goal of treatment is to treat the tumor and prevent the spread of the cancer to other parts of the body.  The eye is spared whenever possible, but may require removal. Treatments include a combination of chemotherapy and local treatments such as laser or cryotherapy (freezing of tissue).  Radiation may also be used in some cases.

As mentioned above, a dilated eye exam is one of the most important diagnostic procedures required to determine the presence of Retinoblastoma.  At Cockrell Eyecare Center we are dedicated to preserving eye health in infant’s and children.  We participate in two programs that pursue this goal; InfantSEE and SEE TO LEARN.  Both programs provide free eye health evaluations; for infants up to 12 months old and for 3 year olds.

If you would like to have any of your children evaluated please contact our offices in Stillwater at 405-372-1715 or Pawnee at 918-762-2573. We also invite you to visit our website at www.cockrelleyecare.com and like us on Facebook at Cockrell Eye Care Center!

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