Retinoblastoma is a form of cancer that develops on the retina. The retina is the structure at the back of the eye that senses light. It sends images to the brain which interprets them. In short, the retina allows us to see.
Although rare, retinoblastoma is the most common eye tumor in children. In most cases, it affects youngsters before age 5. It causes 5% of childhood blindness. But with treatment, the vast majority of patients maintain their sight.
About 40% of retinoblastoma cases are hereditary. This form of the disease usually affects children under age 2. It can affect one eye (unilateral) or both (bilateral).
All cases of bilateral retinoblastoma are hereditary. These cases can be associated with a tumor in the brain's pineal gland. Unilateral retinoblastoma is usually not hereditary. It generally occurs in older children.
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