Retinal tumors can be malignant (cancerous) or benign
Benign - Astrocytomas,
Cancerous - Retinoblastoma
Retinoblastoma occurs in age group of 1-4 years.
It has a tendency to run in families.
The mother may notice something white shining inside her child's eye,
or it may be seen in the child's photo. This may Leukocoria or white
White pupil (Leukocoria), child squinting, eye protruding forward, eye swollen,
appears bigger. These may point towards Retinoblastoma, especially if there is a
It can occur in one or both eyes at a time.
It requires an URGENT Ophthalmological
The child's pupils are dilated with atropine eye ointment or with other
dilating eyedrops. The child has to be given general anesthesia for eye exam.
USG, CTScan, MRI are required to check the extent of tumor spread.
LASER may be done. This burns off the tumor and its blood supply so, may stop
its growth. This is useful in early cases.
If the tumor has spread, the whole eye is removed. This prevents spread
to the brain, liver and other parts of the body.
Many times, the tumor is huge and to prevent spread to the brain,
Chemotherapy and radiation therapy may be given along with surgical
removal of the eye.
The child needs to be observed frequently.
Examination under anesthesia, EUA may be necessary to
check for growth in the other eye and in the eye socket, of the removed eye.
The siblings should also be checked, since it runs in families.
An artificial eye (Glass
eye) may be inserted into the empty socket at a later
date. But eye transplant cannot be done, since the whole eye has
been removed. Sadly, that eye can never see.
Many new Orbital implants are
being devised. The newer implants made of calcium carbonate are porous and
similar to chalk. Since they are porous, blood vessels can grow into them
and their rejection rate lesser. A glass or porcelain prosthesis can be
fitted over this orbital implant and this can achieve excellent cosmesis.
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What is a Tumor?
Abnormal growth of cells
is called as a tumor. All the cells in our body are
multiplying. Thus new cells are formed and old cells die, this is the
cycle of life. There are many factors which control this growth. Some
times, some cells become "rogue"
cells or the controlling factors get astray. The cells do not obey the
usual rules and multiply very fast and with abnormal components. This
growth is manifested as a tumor. The tumor growth may be abnormal, but
still has some "discipline" - then the tumor becomes benign,
i.e. not very harmful. Certain
tumors are "so wild" they just "go out of control" -
these are the cancers. Cancers can
form any where in the body. Different cancers have their
"favorite" age groups. Sadly, the Retinal cancer, Retinoblastoma
has selected a very young age group for itself.
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have no background of Biology and want to go to the basics. Great, it is
never late to learn!
What is a cell?
Every living being is made of small parts
and the tiniest unit which can survive on its own is termed as a
You still feel this tough to follow ?
Well, Visualize a bee-hive. It is made up of small hexagonal areas. Each
area can be thought of as a "cell". Each area has honey, wax and
bee-eggs. Similarly, each living cell has many sub-components.
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