Eye Cancer in Children – A quick guide

Tue Apr 20 2021

Very rarely one encounters eye cancer in children, and the most common type of eye cancer that children face is retinoblastoma. This eye cancer in children makes up for 2% of all cancer cases diagnosed under the age of 15. In fact, most children who are diagnosed with this disease are younger than 5 years old. 

As a concerned parent, you probably want to know more about retinoblastoma and what to expect during your baby’s eye cancer treatment. This article will tell you everything you need to know!

What is retinoblastoma?

Retinoblastoma is a type of eye cancer in children that develops when the soft lining of the retina is damaged. Like most cancers, this disease develops due to cell mutation that occurs in cells in the retina. If left undiagnosed, it can spread to other parts of the body.  

If your child has retinoblastoma, or you’re suspecting that he/she might have it, it’s essential not to hit the panic button. If caught early, the condition can be cured, and in many cases, vision can be salvaged.

Child eye cancer symptoms

If your child exhibits the following symptoms, it could be an indication of retinoblastoma:

  • A white spot in the pupil (more prominent when light is shone directly onto the eye)
  • Eyes seem to look in different directions
  • Redness in the eyes
  • Swelling in and around the eyes

How is retinoblastoma diagnosed?

An eye specialist can diagnose eye cancer in children by conducting a thorough examination. Based on the symptoms and their overall presentation, a doctor may:

  • Conduct an eye exam of the child under anesthesia.
  • Order imaging tests such as an MRI to see what could be causing the symptoms.
  • Refer you to someone from the ocular oncology ward so that you can speak with a specialist.

An oncologist will then review the MRI results and then guide you about the appropriate treatment.

How is eye cancer in children treated?

There are numerous treatment options for eye cancer in children, and they all depend on the size and stage of cancer. Based on your child’s specific needs, the doctor may recommend any of the following treatments:

  • Chemotherapy:

Most cancer treatments include chemotherapy. This is a special drug that is designed to slow down the growth of cancer cells. In successful cases, it can also cause the cells to disappear.

  • Radiation:

Radiation therapy is a treatment in which high-powered beams are administered to shrink and destroy tumours. There are two types of radiation – internal radiation (wherein a device is inserted near the tumour) and external radiation (wherein high-powered beams are exhibited through a machine).

  • Laser therapy:

In this treatment, a laser is used to destroy blood vessels near the tumour so that it does not receive blood and oxygen. 

  • Cryotherapy:

Cold temperatures are used to kill tumour cells. To do so, the doctor will apply liquid nitrogen into the tumour to freeze and treat it.

  • Surgery:

In case cancer has spread quite far in the eye or cannot be treated via the above-mentioned means, the doctor will recommend surgery. During the surgery, the affected eye may be removed. The doctor will then fit your child with an artificial eye. 

Why Choose Centre for Sight?

Centre for Sight is the leading eye-care hospital in India, with multiple clinics located across the country. We work with the most well-known doctors in the field who can not only help with quick diagnostics and effective treatments and customize your treatment plan but also help your child rehabilitate to ocular changes.

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