The most frequent presenting sign of retinoblastoma is a white pupil, which is called leukocoria. It can also be the initial manifestation of other diseases and problems. Retinoblastoma accounts for 12% of infant cancer and statistically affects 1 in 15,000 children. In the past, prior to 1990 or so, enucleation (removal of the eye) was the standard treatment for retinoblastoma. Today, there are new options to preserve eyes. A plaque therapy, using a radioactive plaque attached to the back of the eye, is able to treat the tumor, thereby preserving the eye. We are fortunate in Los Angeles to have some of the world’s top specialists in retinoblastoma, particularly in pediatric retinoblastoma. John Stolpe maintains close relationships with specialists to help patients. It is highly recommended that anyone suffering from this condition visits an expert in order to contain the malignancy. It is possible that retinoblastoma can spread beyond the eye and through the whole body.
If the eye is preserved, sometimes even vision can be preserved. Extensive tumor analysis must be made to see which treatment is recommended. Often, however, vision cannot be preserved and the eye will be removed altogether.
Retinoblastoma cases can be among the most difficult that an ocularist deals with. When radiation is involved, there is often a lack of orbital symmetry. Also, contraction of the socket can occur when the eye is left out overnight. When surgery has been involved, it is possible that an eye implant can migrate within the socket. Having too aggressive of treatment in terms of multiple surgeries and radiation can decrease the aesthetics of the final outcome. Every surgery creates scar tissue and changes the anatomy. If the surgery is not successful, it can create new, unintended consequences. Even the most well intended surgeries can go bad, and these can lead to some of the most challenging cases we see as ocularists, sometimes warranting yet more surgery for the best appearance and comfort.
We work with all of our patients — from those with retinoblastoma, to those who have lost eyes due to trauma — to achieve the best possible results. We know how important an eye is to your quality of life. We invite you to set up an appointment today to learn how we can help you live a normal, happy, “under the radar” life.