Facebook Pixel

Retinablastoma Symptoms & Diagnosis


Symptoms are usually noticed by the parent or caregiver and may include, but are not limited to:

  • Eyes do not look normal, often described as a glazed look or a “cat’s eye.”
  • When a light is directed at the eye, the pupil looks white rather than red. This is often noticed on a photograph.
  • Eyes may appear to be crossed or looking in different directions.
  • Less common symptoms may include:
    • Eye may grow in size
    • Eye pain
    • Redness in the white part of the eye
    • Tearing
    • Pupil may not respond to light
    • Iris (colored part of the eye) changes color


The doctor will ask about symptoms and family medical history, and perform a physical exam. Many retinoblastomas are found during routine physical exams. If a tumor is suspected, the child will usually be referred to a specialist for a more complete eye exam. In children with a family history of the disease, eye exams often begin within a day or two of birth. Additional eye exams are scheduled at regular intervals thereafter.

Once retinoblastoma is found, staging tests are performed to find out if the cancer has spread, and, if so, to what extent. Treatment depends on the stage of the cancer. The cancer may be localized to the eyes or it may have spread to tissues around the eye or to other parts of the body.

Tests may include, but are not limited to:

  • Eye exam—The pupil is dilated with eye drops. Then, the inside of the eye is examined with a lighted instrument that allows the examiner to view structures inside the eye.
  • Ultrasound—This test that uses sound waves to examine the inner part of the eye.
  • MRI scan —The MRI uses magnetic waves to make pictures of the inside of the body. It can be used to check for spread of the cancer to the brain or other tissue.
  • CT scan —This is a type of x-ray that uses a computer to make pictures of the eye. CT scans of other areas of the body may be done to check if the cancer has spread.

General anesthesia may be given to keep the child still during close examination and testing.

Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Copyright © 2021 EBSCO Publishing All rights reserved.

The Latest in Retinablastoma Symptoms & Diagnosis

ASK Your Health Question

It's FREE and you'll get a response within 24 hours


POST Info, Tips & Stories

Inspire others to learn from your experiences. Tell your story!

Get Email Updates

Related Topics

Retinablastoma Guide

HERWriter Guide

Have a question? We're here to help. Ask the Community.


Health Newsletter

Receive the latest and greatest in women's health and wellness from EmpowHER - for free!