How a photograph could save your Child’s eyes

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Smartphones have made it easier than ever to take and share a ton of baby photos after a new baby is born. While most photos draw the usual likes and comments, a few photos have saved babies’ eyesight and even lives. Several eye conditions can affect the way the pupils of the eyes appear in photographs, so some moms have gotten dire warnings from friends and family after sharing photos that have helped lead to early diagnosis and treatment.

What is the Red Eye Reflex?

Pretty much everyone has seen the red eye reflex in one photograph or another. The red eye reflex occurs when the eyes are looking directly at the camera and the flash illuminates the retina, revealing the blood within. Red eye reflex is normal and is a healthy sign, but when the reflex appears to be a color other than red, there may be a problem.

White Pupillary Reflex

Several different conditions and occurrences can cause the pupil to appear white in photographs. After spotting this phenomenon, also called leukocoria, doctors can take action to definitively diagnose the condition and begin treatment if necessary. A certain rare form of child’s eye cancer called pediatric retinoblastoma is the most serious issue that may cause the pupil to appear white by blocking the retina. While retinoblastoma is serious, it can usually be treated successfully if it is diagnosed early.

The pupils may appear white if a child is nearsighted, farsighted, or has astigmatism because the light will reflect off the eye in a different way than normal. If one pupil appears white and the other red, it could be a sign of strabismus, a misalignment of the eyes. White pupillary reflexes are not always something to be alarmed by, though, sometimes the way the child is looking when a photo is snapped makes the light reflect off the optic nerve.

Yellow Pupillary Reflex

A condition called Coat’s disease, in which the blood vessels of the retina become twisted and sometimes begin to leak, can cause the pupil to appear yellow in photographs. If not treated early enough, Coat’s disease can cause retinal detachment and can lead to vision loss of varying severity, including blindness. Spotting this problem early provides several treatment options that can help to prevent complications and save the vision.

Since children are adapting to the world day by day in early years, they may not understand that something is wrong, even when impairments or issues are severe. Doctors perform tests at wellness visits, but even something as simple as the direction a child is looking in when tests are completed can cause delays in diagnosis of eye conditions. Noticing an abnormal pupillary reflex could help you to identify issues with the eyes very early, allowing treatment to begin before conditions worsen or development is affected.