Overview

The retina is located at the back of the eye. It contains cells that detects light and gives information to the brain that creates images. Retinoblastoma is a rare type of eye cancer that affects the retina and it is mostly found in young children. Adults rarely have this condition and it may affect only one or both eyes. 

Causes

The cause of retinoblastoma is by a genetic mutation of the retinas nerve cells which leads to rapid growth of the abnormal cells and later on forms a tumor. It may affect other structures of the eye or even spread to other parts of the body (metastasize) if untreated

It is unclear what causes the genetic changes leading to retinoblastoma but it is can possibly be passed on by the parents to their children.

Inherited Retinoblastoma

Retinoblastoma that is inherited has an autosomal dominant pattern where only one parent has one copy of the genetic mutation to pass on to the child. The probability of inherited retinoblastoma is 50% in each child even if only one parent carries the gene that has mutations occurring in one or both eyes.

Symptoms

Signs and symptoms are not common because retinoblastoma often occurs in infants and young children. You may watch out for the following signs: 

  • Crossed eyes (strabismus)
  • Vision problems
  • Eye redness or swelling
  • Leukocoria (white or cloudy pupil) is observed on direct flashing of light (e.g., when taking a photograph of a child) 

When you notice these symptoms, consult the doctor.