Eye Cancer Death

Pediatric retinoblastoma is a relatively rare type of cancer that affects about one in every 15,000 children throughout the world. In developed nations such as the United States, the cure rate for retinoblastoma is about 90 percent. In developing nations, though, this number decreases dramatically, and pediatric retinoblastoma is a leading cause of eye cancer death.

Eye Cancer Death in Developing Nations

Survival rates for retinoblastoma patients in developing nations can be lower than 50 percent. Many factors influence the probability of survival for those that have retinoblastoma in developing countries, including access to medical facilities for check-ups, access to proper treatment by the medical facilities that are available, and financial ability of the family to provide treatment for the child that is suffering. The chances of surviving retinoblastoma are significantly higher for those that are diagnosed and begin treatment in early stages of the disease.

Preventing Eye Cancer Death from Retinoblastoma

One of the best ways to improve the survival rate for retinoblastoma is to make early diagnosis more common and easier to achieve. In many developed countries, eye tests are done at regular well baby exams to check for retinoblastoma. Prenatal tests to check for the hereditary form of retinoblastoma are also beginning to gain more widespread use, further speeding detection.


One of the most accurate indicators of retinoblastoma is leukocoria, a white spot that appears in the pupil when the affected eye is exposed to light. It was previously thought that retinoblastoma did not cause this spot to appear until it was relatively far advanced. However, studies are beginning to reveal that leukocoria is frequently visible even in cases in which retinoblastoma is in early stages. This spot is often detected in baby photographs, and in many cases it is parents that detect this abnormality and bring the child in for subsequent testing.

Use of Home Testing in Developing Nations

The use of photography in detecting retinoblastoma could be key in speeding diagnosis of retinoblastoma and preventing eye cancer death in developing nations. Individual access to digital photography will most likely increase faster than access to regular medical examinations in developing countries. Educating parents on how to look for leukocoria could play a large role in diagnosing retinoblastoma early all throughout the world.

Retinoblastoma Eye Cancer Death History

The first recorded case of retinoblastoma in the United States was in 1809, and enucleation surgery was performed to remove the eye. In the late 1800s more cases were reported, and by 1869 the survival rate for retinoblastoma was about five percent. By the end of the 1890s, the survival rate had increased to 15 percent, as doctors were educated about enucleation which was the only treatment for the disease at the time.

Retaining Sight Following Treatment

Experimentation with other forms of treatment for retinoblastoma began in the early 1900s, but the first reported case of a retinoblastoma patient being successfully treated and retaining sight in the eye that was treated came about in 1926. Throughout the 1960s, 70s, and 80s, imaging techniques such as CT scans and MRIs were developed and the earlier detection that these allowed made the retention of sight in retinoblastoma patients a much stronger possibility, while decreasing the probability of fatality. Research continues in the study of retinoblastoma, and breakthroughs in diagnosis and treatment are made everyday which increase the rate of sight retention and decrease the rate of eye cancer death.


Abramson, David. “Retinoblastoma in the 20th Century: Past Success and Future Challenges The Weisenfeld Lecture.” Investigative Ophthalmology and Visual Science. Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology, n.d. Web. 11 Dec 2013. <http://www.iovs.org/content/46/8/2684.long>.

“Retinoblastoma.” ORBIS Saving Sight Worldwide. Orbis, n.d. Web. 11 Dec 2013. <http://www.orbis.org/Default.aspx?cid=5613&lang=1>.

“Retinoblastoma Treatment.” National Cancer Institute. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 06 Dec 2013. Web. 11 Dec 2013. <http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/pdq/treatment/retinoblastoma/healthprofessional>.