Child in glasses


Retinoblastoma is a rare form of eye cancer found in very young children. Around 50 to 60 children are diagnosed with retinoblastoma in the UK each year. Thanks to advanced screening techniques, it is possible to catch this condition early.

Causes of Retinoblastomadiagram comparing an eye suffering retinoblastoma to a healthy eye

Retinoblastoma is cancer of the retina. During the early stages of a baby’s development, retinal eye cells grow very quickly and then stop growing. However, in rare cases, one or more cells continue to grow and form a cancer called retinoblastoma.

In about 40% of cases, retinoblastoma is caused by a faulty gene that often affects both eyes. The faulty gene may be inherited from a parent, or mutation may occur at an early stage of the child’s development in the womb.

It’s not known what causes the remaining 60% of retinoblastoma cases. In these cases, there’s no faulty gene and only one eye is affected.

Symptoms of Retinoblastoma

Symptoms of retinoblastoma include:

  • An unusual white reflection in the pupil
  • A squint
  • A change in the colour of the iris
  • a red or inflamed eye, but no pain
  • poor vision

Retinoblastoma Treatments

9 out of 10 cases of retinoblastoma are detected early and can be treated easily with laser treatment or freezing. In some cases, chemotherapy is required either before or after the treatment. If the tumour is large, brachytherapy or eye removal surgery may be required.