ONE OF MY BABY'S PUPILS IS WHITE. WHAT'S WRONG?

Dr. Jim Martin 08/21/2014

asian_baby_eyes.jpgAs a parent it can often be difficult to determine when to be concerned about the health and development of your child. The subtle changes to appearance, ability and personality are the only factors that young children and infants give to let you know that there may be a problem. One symptom that should never be ignored is a change to the pupils of the eye, especially a change in color.

What Does A Normal Pupil Look Like In A Baby?

Normal pupils are black, equal in size and reactive to changes in light. Changes to these characteristics are a strong indicator that your child should be seen by a medical care provider. Occasionally, parents will notice white in the pupil. The white discoloration can be in the form of spots, a milky film, or become noticeable in a photograph.

What Can Cause Whitening Of The Pupil, Or Leukocoria?

Cataract: A cataract is the clouding of the cornea, however, it can often mimic the same symptom of a white pupil. This is a condition which is often associated with the elderly and individuals who suffer with diabetes. Despite it most commonly occurring in the elderly, it can still develop in the very young and requires the attention of an eye specialist.

Coloboma: A coloboma is a small hole which is present in one of the features of the eye such as:

  • choroid
  • iris
  • optic disc
  • retina

This is typically a type of birth defect in which the choroid fissure of the fetal eye does not completely close before the birth. It is a very rare defect and is not specific to any gender or ethnic background.

Retinoblastoma: The retina is the light sensitive tissue which lines the eyeball. These cells, like all other cells within the body, are susceptible to cancer, when it develops in the retina it is called retinoblastoma.

Interestingly, this form of cancer is often first noticed as the result of a photograph being taken. The flash of the camera when reflected by the eye will show a white mirror-like appearance, this effect is also referred to as amaurotic cat's eye reflex.

Infants and children are most frequently diagnosed with this rare condition before the age of three years old.

Retinal detachment: The incredibly fragile tissue of the retina can be damaged or develop incorrectly causing it to separate from the tissue beneath which holds it in position within the eyeball. When this situation happens, it is called retinal detachment and requires immediate medical attention.

What Should I Do If My Baby’s Eyes Don’t Look Normal?

If you notice a change or abnormality in your infant or child's eyes, they should be seen by an eyecare professional, as it is vital to protect their sight. At Broome Optical in Amarillo, Texas, not only do we have the experience and knowledge needed to examine your children, but we also have a compassionate and considerate staff to help guide you through any eye medical issue. Contact us to schedule your appointment and address your concerns. We can work with your baby’s pediatrician and other primary care physicians.

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