When Red Eye In A Picture Can Save A Life

Being a new parent, I like to make sure we get plenty of photographs of my daughter and have come to appreciate a good high quality camera, but why are all of my pictures of my children showing red eyes? In many cases it might be just the case of a bad camera, or too strong of a flash but occasionally what seems to be a bad photo turns into life saving event. Let us explain.

The problem with red pupil reflex in photography is a common one, especially in children because of their relatively large pupils. It occurs when the flash reflects off of the blood-rich retina. If both eyes show up red, that can indicate that all is well (normal). There are some conditions which can cause an eye to NOT have a normal red reflection, so it could be a warning sign of a problem if one eye’s light reflex is different from the other. Other color reflexes that might show up in either one or both eyes are white, yellow or black. Cataract and retinoblastoma are a couple of conditions that might present themselves with a white reflex, also known as leukocoria. Should you happen to notice this, please consult with your eye doctor and if necessary, a pediatric ophthalmologist.

ABCnews RetinoblastomaThis child’s photograph, which had been circulating social media, led to a diagnosis of Retinoblastoma, which is a life-threatening tumor in the retina. You can certainly see that something is amiss here with the white reflex showing in the left eye.

We don’t want to frighten you with this information, only keep you informed so you can take good care of your kids and make sure their vision is healthy.

Our optometrists and ophthalmologist recommend most children have eye exams every one to two years.


***Above photo courtesy of ABC World News Tonight