Retinoblastoma is a malignant tumor of the eye that originates from the retina. It can affect one or both eyes in children, and is typically diagnosed in those 5 years old or younger.

This rare cancer of the eye is caused by a gene abnormality in chromosomes that contain genetic code that control cell growth and development. Most cases of retinoblastoma appear without warning or family precedent. Around 40 percent of children with retinoblastoma have an inherited form of the tumor, even if it has not presented in any other member of the family. Ten percent have a family member with the disease.

Retinoblastoma is detected using a CT scan and/or eye ultrasound. Other tests, such as an MRI or blood work, may be administered as well. An oncologist (doctor who specializes in cancer treatment) is often included in diagnosis and treatment.

Retinoblastoma is one of the most curable of childhood cancers, with 95 percent surviving. Prognosis depends on size and location of the tumor or tumors.

Treatment options include:

  • Laser therapy: laser light is used to destroy the tumor.
  • Cryotherapy: freezing treatment is used to destroy the tumor.
  • Chemotherapy: drug treatment given via the bloodstream is used to kill the cancer cells; it is sometimes used in conjunction with laser therapy.
  • Radiotherapy: high energy radiation is used to destroy cancer cells.
  • Enucleation: removal of the eye.


Source: American Association for Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus

Children’s Eye Care provides this information for general educational purposes only. It should not be construed as personal medical advice. Information published on this website is not intended to replace, supplant, or augment a consultation with an eye care professional. Children’s Eye Care disclaims any and all liability for injury or other damages that could result from use of the information obtained from this site.