Everyone expects to see red eyes in overexposed cellphone pictures, but when an Illinois mom saw her toddler’s white pupil she knew something was wrong. Julie Fitzgerald’s smartphone photo with flash exposed her toddler’s eye cancer.
Doctors diagnosed Avery Fitzgerald with retinoblastoma after discovering his eye was filled with tumors. Retinoblastoma is a rare cancer in the retina.
The white color in the pupil seen when light is shined in the eye is a symptom of the disease, said Michael W. Stewart, ophthalmology professor and chair at Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Fla. Parents may use a camera flash to see if their child’s pupils are white, however this is not a prefect indicator of retinoblastoma, according to Stewart.
“A lot of photos taken will show one or both pupils are white and subsequently an eye exam discloses that it’s a normal eye,” Stewart said. “It’s much better to do an exam that has negative findings than to pass up an exam and not have it looked at.”
Diagnosing retinoblastoma is crucial, according to Stewart. “When caught early it’s very treatable,” he said. “Current technology and chemotherapies can save the baby’s life and vision.”
Jody Myers Eye Equipment specializes in selling the technology that helps diagnose retinoblastoma, such as the Topcon 50DX Mydriatic Retinal Camera. The TRC-50DX is equipped with the latest digital-ready features to produce the most complete retinal image captures.
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