Retinoblastoma is an eye cancer that mostly affects children and is rarely found in adults. This disease attacks the retina which is located on the back wall of the eyeball. When a retinoblastoma occurs, the eye cells called retinoblasts do not turn into mature cells, but continue to divide to form cancer in the retina.
The complications of retinoblastoma that need to be watched out for are retinal detachment, bleeding in the eyeball, glaucoma, inflammation of the eyeball and surrounding tissue (orbital cellulitis), as well as wrinkled and malfunctioning eyeballs (phthisis bulbi).
What Causes Retinoblastoma?
The cause of retinoblastoma is uncertain. However, experts suspect that some cases of this disease are passed on by parents (genetic factors). If it occurs due to genetic factors, usually retinoblastoma will attack both eyes. Meanwhile, retinoblastoma that is not passed on by parents generally only affects one eye.
What are the signs and symptoms of retinoblastoma?
The main symptom of retinoblastoma is leukocoria, which is a white color in the pupil of the eye when exposed to light. The blood vessels behind the eyes should glow red when exposed to light. Other signs and symptoms are eye swelling, the eye looks like it is looking in different directions (lazy eye), red eyes, and the pupil is always wide open.
There are three stages of retinoblastoma development that need to be known. The following include:
- Intraocular retinoblastoma. At this stage, the cancer cells have not spread to the outer tissues of the eye.
- Extraocular retinoblastoma. At this advanced stage, cancer cells spread outside the eye or other parts of the body.
- Recurrent retinoblastoma. At this stage, the retinoblastoma reappears in the eye or other body part.
How is retinoblastoma diagnosed and treated?
The doctor will use an instrument called an ophthalmoscope to look at the condition in the eye, including checking for possible tumors in the eye. An eye ultrasound scan, CT scan or MRI can be done to determine the severity of the retinoblastoma, which is differentiated based on the extent of spread and location of the cancer. Once known, the doctor will determine the treatment steps to be carried out.
Once diagnosed, treatment is rare based on the severity of the retinoblastoma. There are several therapy options that can be done to kill cancer cells in retinoblastoma, including laser therapy, cryotherapy, thermotherapy, radiotherapy, and chemotherapy. If the tumor is very large and difficult to treat with other methods, the doctor may recommend surgical removal of the eyeball.
Can Retinoblastoma Be Prevented?
Certainly can. One way is to do regular eye examinations. Children who have family members with a history of retinoblastoma need to have their eyes checked by a doctor every month until they are 1 year old. The earlier the retinoblastoma is detected, the greater the success rate of treatment. Mothers and partners need to have regular eye examinations, at least once a year for early detection of retinoblastoma. Read More !