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Dr. Rick
Dr. Rick, Board Certified MD
Category: Eye
Satisfied Customers: 11267
Experience:  Ophthalmology since 1994 with Retina sub-specialty interest
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Hi. My daughter is almost 4 and weve noticed that in photos

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Hi. My daughter is almost 4 and we've noticed that in photos where she is looking directly at the camera her left eye has a white glow to it instead of a red reflex. It doesn't cover the entire pupil only half to three quarters of it. Since we saw this we've looked over old photos and found that it was present in photos taken over a year ago. When asked yesterday she said that "it is all fuzzy" in her left eye.

I took her to my GP who looked in her eyes with an opthalmoscope but couldn't see anything. It was a very bright room and the lights were not dimmed at all, would it have made any difference if the room had been darkened?

Our GP has referred my daughter to a specialist as although she couldn't see anything in the eye the photos showed that something wasn't quite right. However we haven't been able to get an appointment before March which is a little worrying.

Could it be that my daughter just needs glasses and the refraction in her eyes is unbalanced? If not, will it be a problem to wait until March to see a specialist?

I'm not sure what to do. I don't want to panic if it's likely that it's nothing serious.

Thanks so much.

Dr. Rick :

Hi. I'm online and happy to answer your question today.



Dr. Rick :

First of all I do not put much stock in your daughters GP using a direct ophthalmoscope to look into your daughters eye......I'm glad he tried but it really doesn't tell you anything.

Dr. Rick :

Has your daughter ever been examined by an ophthalmologist or an optometrist in her life?


Are you there?

Dr. Rick :

Yup. I'm still seems that our chat system is having problems as it shows you are offline then online etc.

Hi. I'm here. Hopefully this system will be more stable. I'm sorry about the technical difficulties we had with the chat system.

Let me repeat my question:

Has your daughter ever been examined by an ophthalmologist or an optometrist in her life?
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
I'm not sure what's happening with our live chat! No my daughter has never been to see an optometrist (sp?) or had her eyes tested except at birth.
I was
As I'm sure you have already learned a white reflex in a child's eye can be a sign of a tumor inside the eyeball. The most common forms of ocular cancer in children are retinoblastoma and medulloepithelioma.

OK. I got your message. The chat system seems to be broken. We can communicate like we are now.....let's keep going....
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
Yes I am aware of this, but I can't see anything obvious unless I take a flash photograph of her eye. As it's been present in photos since over a year ago I'm assuming it can't be a tumor as it would have spread by now and be causing her to feel unwell wouldn't it?
The good news? It can also be a sign of mild crossing of the eyes (squint or strabismus) or it might be that her optic nerve is lining up with the camera and causing the white reflex.

My oldest son had a white reflex in pictures when he was about 2. I, of course, panicked. I refused to examine him myself and took him to a pediatric ophthalmologist friend of mine. After a complete exam we found that my son was completely normal in all respects (no tumor, no squint etc) and it was just his optic nerve lining up with the camera.

So. What is my take home message? Yes. Your daughter needs a comprehensive exam by an pediatric ophthalmologist but it may turn out to NOT be anything terrible.

As a parent myself I don't think I could stand to wait until March. Is there anyway that you can get in sooner?
You are correct. If it was one of the eye tumors I had mentioned it would have grown to a large size in the course of a year and she would, most likely, be blind in that eye by that fact points to a benign cause for her white reflex. That being said, she still needs an exam by a peds eye MD.
Dr. Rick and other Eye Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
I don't think so. I'm going to ask my husband to take her back to the gp tomorrow and ask here to do a proper examination in a darkened room. I'm too chicken to go again myself! If she sees anything I'll suggest that we push for an earlier referal if at all possible.
I'm sure it's nothing but I hate waiting!!
Thanks so much.
I wouldn't waste your time having the GP do another "eye exam" even in a dark room. The pupil will come down from the light on the instrument anyway and a GP just doesn't have the training to do any type of useful exam in this situation.

Here is a good website that talks about the different things that can cause a white eye reflex in kids:

I'm glad I could help you. I know that this is hard to do but try not to panic. The fact that this has been going on for a year with no significant change in your daughters vision is a positive thing.....but, on the other hand, you still have to worry about the bad things. SO. Do your best to demand that your daughter be examined by an pediatric ophthalmologist or even a retina specialist as soon as possible.

And, now, the obligatory word from our sponsors: :o)
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Let me know if there is anything else you would like to discuss pertaining to this issue.

If you have a chance could you drop me a note on this thread after your daughter is examined by an Eye MD and let me know how things turn out? Thanks.
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
I will of course! Thank you so much! x
It is always a pleasure to help my friends on the other side of the "pond" (AKA the Atlantic Ocean) :o)
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
Hi! Just thought I'd update you with what's happening here as promised. We went to a specialist and it turns out that my daughter just has a very under developed left eye causing her to be extremely long sighted in it. She has been given glasses to wear with a very strong prescription to help get her vision going again in her left eye and then in a few months time they will patch the good eye to further develop her eye muscles. Her sight will never be great in that eye but I'm just so glad it turned out to be nothing too serious.
Thank you once again for all your help. So very much appreciated.
Emma. xxx
Thanks for the update. I'm glad that the ophthalmologist was able to pinpoint her problem and it is not a tumor :)

Hopefully, with her correct glasses in place, and with patching of her other eye (Get ready....this is gonna be hard to do -- she really won't like the patch) she can get as close to normal vision as possible in both eyes.

Take care and best of luck to your daughter. If there is anything else I can do just let me know. :o)