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Detecting Eye Diseases – The Glow behind the Eyes

The vast advancement in technology has led people to easily […]

By Published On: 14 November 20122.6 min read

The vast advancement in technology has led people to easily do away with unwanted elements in a picture. Such unwanted elements include the glow in the eyes of the subject of the photograph. Here is a word of advice however. Refrain from using that red eye correction function of your image software first. That glow may actually be an indication of some underlying eye disease, or even cancer.

One out of 80 children suffering from a form of eye disease will reflect a white glow in at least one of their eyes when using flash photography. Of those afflicted however, more than 80% can complete a full recovery.

The Know the Glow Campaign

The Know the Glow campaign aims to educate parents of the warning signals brought about by the white glowing reflection in a child’s eye in photographs. It started when a mother in California took notice of her son’s pictures that consistently showed a white glow. While this was initially ignored and dismissed as an inevitable outcome of flash photography, the constant presence of the white glow in the photographs alarmed the mother sufficiently that she took her son to an eye doctor for consultation.

The mother’s hunch turned out to be correct. Her son was diagnosed with a potentially blinding eye disease called Coat’s disease. The early detection allowed her son to be treated immediately, which eventually led to a full and complete recovery.

How to Conduct the Test

The test can be conducted through the following steps:

1.    Take several pictures of your child at different angles while using the camera’s flash. Use different light situations as well.
2.    Do not adjust or edit the photographs.
3.    Check if there is a white glow that is reflecting consistently in either one of the eyes.
4.    If a white glow is detected in at least one of the eyes, consult an eye doctor. The eye doctor may then conduct a red reflex screening to check for possible eye diseases.

Possible Eye Diseases that Cause the Glow

Among the most common eye diseases that can cause the white glow reflection in the eyes in a photograph are the following:

1.    Coat’s Disease – an eye disease brought about by undeveloped blood vessels in the retina. This can lead to the detachment of the retina and may cause blindness.
2.    Retinoblastoma – an eye cancer that may affect children up to the age of 5. This eye disease is actually a tumor brought about by immature cells in the retina.

The two eye diseases mentioned above are the most common reasons behind the white glow of an eye in a child’s picture. Do note however that aside from these two, the glow can also be caused by other eye problems, including cataract, retinal detachment, trauma, etc.

And yes, it may even be caused by the flash of the camera itself and may not be indicative of an eye disease at all. Still, it wouldn’t hurt to be vigilant because early detection of an eye disease leads to a better chance of recovery.


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