Retinoblastoma refers to an eye cancer that starts in the retina, which is the sensitive lining on the inside of the eye. Retinoblastoma most frequently develops in young children, but can also occur in adults in rare cases.
The retina comprises nerve tissue that senses light as it comes through the front of the eye. The retina sends signals through the optic nerve to the brain, where these signals are interpreted as images.
Retinoblastoma is the most commonly occurring type of cancer impacting the eye in children, and it can develop in one or both eyes. Khan Eyelid and Facial Aesthetics, led by board certified ophthalmologist Dr. Tanya Khan, provides safe and proven eye care procedures to patients in Austin, Dallas, Texas, and surrounding communities.
As retinoblastoma mostly impacts infants and small kids, symptoms are rare. The noticeable signs may include:
- A white color in the center circle of the eye, or pupil, when light is shone in the eye, such as when taking a flash picture
- Eyes that seem to be looking in different directions
- Eye inflammation
- Eye redness
When to See a Doctor
In case the parent notices any changes to the child’s eyes that concern them, they should make an appointment with their child’s doctor. A retinoblastoma is a rare form of cancer. Therefore, the child’s doctor may explore other more common eye conditions initially.
In case of a family history of retinoblastoma, the parent or guardian should ask their pediatrician when the child should start routine eye examinations to screen for retinoblastoma.
The most suitable treatments for a child’s retinoblastoma depends on the location and size of the tumor, whether cancer has spread to regions other than the eye, the child’s overall medical condition, and the parent’s preferences. The objective of the treatment is to cure the cancer. When possible, the doctor will work to preserve the child’s vision.
Surgery to remove the affected eye (enucleation) involves disconnecting the tissue and muscles around the eye and removing the eyeball. A part of the optic nerve, which runs from the back of the eye into the brain, also is removed.
Surgery to Place an Eye Implant
Right after the eyeball is removed, the surgeon inserts a special ball (comprising plastic or other materials) in the eye socket. The muscles that control the movement of the eye are attached to the implant.
Once the child heals, the eye muscles will adapt to the implanted eyeball. Therefore, it may move just like a natural eye does. But the implanted eyeball cannot see.
Fitting an Artificial Eye
Several weeks after the procedure, a customized eye can be placed over the eye implant. The artificial eye can be created to match the child’s healthy eye. The artificial eye lies behind the lids and clips onto the eye implant. The child’s eye muscles move the eye implant; it will seem as the child is moving the artificial eye.
Oculoplastic & reconstructive surgeon Dr. Tanya Khan receives patients from Austin, Dallas, Texas, and nearby areas for advanced eye care procedures.
Offices in Dallas and Austin, Texas.