Parents can detect retinoblastoma in their kids
Monday, November 18 2013 | 00 h 00 min | News
Researchers from Baylor and Harvard Universities claim that parents can check their children for retinoblastoma using their digital cameras.
Using photographs taken with amateur digital cameras, the researchers themselves observed evidence of leukocoria or “white eye,” the main symptom of retinoblastoma. These findings pave the way for the development of methods to enable earlier detection of this eye cancer, which mostly occurs in children from birth to five years old. Early diagnosis is crucial, as this cancer can cause severe vision loss, the loss of one or both eyes, even death if it spreads to the brain.
“Newborns and infants don’t typically get checked out by an ophthalmologist, but many of them do get their retinas scanned multiple times a week, when mom or dad are snapping pictures to share on Facebook,” said Bryan Shaw, assistant professor of chemistry and biochemistry at Baylor University. “In a majority of retinoblastoma cases, it is the parents that initiate the diagnosis based on seeing leukocoria or ‘white eye’ in photos of their children.”
Leukocoria is often detected after the tumour has already significantly grown in size. This research is a major step toward the creation of software that will help parents notice the symptoms sooner.