Why Is A White Pupil In A Photo A Bad Thing?


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Julii Brainard answered
You know how when you take a photo using a flash, the pupil of the eye usually looks red? This is because of the reflection of blood vessels in the back of the eye.

But very rarely, the pupil will come out looking distinctly white in photos that used a flash.  It's called Leukocoria when the pupil is white instead of red in flash photos.  Very often Leukocoria indicates a kind of tumour -- called retinoblastoma -- inside the eye.  It's the actual mass of the tumour that makes the white colour. Retinoblastoma is typically detected by parents, as it usually manifests before a child has reached the age of five years.

Example s of Leukocoria on this page.

Only 60% of children with Retinoblastoma have Leukocoria, though.  Some children are found to have Retinoblastoma after they complain about pain, or parents notice redness or white spots in the eye (not from a flash photo).

Retinoblastoma tumours are not deadly in themselves, but they have a very high risk of spreading to other parts of the body -- most cases lead to death without treatment.  Retinoblastoma can be completely cured in most cases, though, if it is caught early enough.

Some cases of Retinoblastoma are because of an inherited genetic defect, which means that most parents of children with this condition will probably want to undergo genetic counselling.

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