Children's Cancer Awareness Retinoblastoma

Taking A Picture Could Save Your Child’s Life

When Jasmin Nethercoat had her photograph taken on her first birthday, little did her parents realise the picture would save her sight.

Her mother Vicki had the photograph developed – only to notice a strange spot reflected in her daughter’s left eye.

After seeing an optician, a GP and a specialist, the family was sent to Great Ormond Street Hospital where doctors found cancerous tumours in both of Jasmin’s eyes.

There was a risk that she would lose the sight in her left eye to the cancer, called retinoblastoma, and so within two weeks she had begun chemotherapy.

Retinoblastoma (RB) is the most common eye cancer in children and it can be inherited.

Although the most common eye cancer in children, retinoblastoma is quite rare and occurs in approximately 1 in every 20,0000 births.

The goal with retinoblastoma is early detection to maximize the visual outcome and the quality of life of the affected child. Fortunately, the survival rate for affected children is 96%.

In order to achieve our goal of early detection, we believe it is important to educate the public and other health professionals on the signs that might manifest themselves with a child that has retinoblastoma. We encourage people to share this information with others as many of the signs are very subtle and may not be picked up even by a health professional, due to the rarity of this disease.


Common signs of retinoblastoma include:

  • a white “glow” or “glint” in the pupil of one or both eyes in dim lighting
  • white pupil in a color photo
  • crossed or misaligned eyes

This photo shows the “white glow” often indicating the presence of a tumor. If you notice this white glow in any of your children’s photos, please contact your pediatrician or ophthalmologist immediately and have their eyes examined. Request pupil dilation of both eyes. If your physician is unable or unwilling to do the pupil dilation, please insist on a referral.



About the author

Lisa Arneill

Mom of 2 boys and founder of and World Traveled Family. When I'm not running around after my boys, I'm looking for our next vacation spot!


  • Definately a simple picture can save the life a child. I have been in the same situation. I’m mother of a Retinoblastoma survivor.

    I would also, like to recommend that you, the parent(s), take the initiative to ask your pediatrician to have them check for your babies eyes at every well-being check. It does not take time from the overall examinations or refer you to see an eye professional doctor. At lot of the time vision disorders are NOT discover in a early stage. Even though they may be treatable, but the damage is already done. I want to “prevent” you to part. Your baby’s eye are as important as other part of the body that the pediatricians check at the well-being check up. Visit my page and learn what our journey is been like.


  • My 20 month old son Will has had leukocoria in many photos. We asked his normal pediatrician about this and he did an exam of Will’s eyes in a darkened room and saw a normal red reflex. He gave us the name of a pediatric ophthalmologist if we wanted to examine further why this occurred. Although there was no urgency expressed by the normal pediatrician, I was concerned and made the appointment with the pediatric ophthalmologist.
    The pediatric ophthalmologist did a dilated eye exam and said that Will had an asymmetrical red reflex, but it was probably nothing to worry about. He had us make an appointment in six months for a follow up, but told us we could cancel if we were no longer noticing the leukocoria in Will’s pictures. We continued to see the white reflex in photos (although not often).
    I didn’t worry much after that and figured that the leukocoria was just due to a bad camera angle or a reflection of the optic nerve. He is never looking directly at the camera in the photos where the white reflex occurs. It happens in both eyes (sometimes it happens in both eyes at once, sometimes just the right eye or just in the left). Since bilateral retinoblastoma is familial and we have no history of retinoblastoma in our family that made me worry less.
    We did take him back for the follow up six months later since the leukocoria was still occurring. This time we printed some of the photos and took them with us. The pediatric ophthalmologist seemed concerned when he saw the photos. He was very quiet and then suggested we set up an appointment for Will to have an examination under anesthesia. I was shocked to see that he was concerned this time because of the way he acted six months ago.
    The doctor is extremely busy because he is the only pediatric ophthalmologist in the area. They set Will up for the first available appointment he had, but it is not until June 24th. That is over a month away! I assumed that the large amount of time between our appointment and the EUA meant that he was not really too concerned, so I have tried to use that to put my mind at ease. (I keep thinking, if he really thought it was retinoblastoma he would clear his schedule and look at Will right away, right?!?!) I went home and started searching for other causes of the white reflex thinking it could be something else that is harmless. The more I read, the more nervous I am. Will is a totally healthy, normal little boy, but I am extremely worried and feeling I am feeling physically ill because of it. Any thoughts? I have been trying to post my story on several sights to see if anyone has any any advice for us.

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