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Know the Glow

KnowAbout the Glow

Education for Parents About Eye Disease

Most parents don't know that a white glow reflected by a camera flash in their child's eye could be a sign of two serious eye diseases:

Coats' Disease

A rare eye disorder involving abnormal development of the blood vessels of the retina, which lines the interior chamber of the eye. As various components of blood leak into the retina, fluid accumulates under the retina. The result may be loss of vision, particularly central vision, and detachment of the retina from other layers of the eye.


A childhood cancer arising from immature retinal cells in one or both eyes and can strike from the time a child is in the womb up to 5 years of age. This cancer is curable if caught early enough.

Disorders Related to the Glow

Abnormalities perceived through the red reflex test can indicate several types of diseases, such as:

  • Amblyopia
  • Cataract 
  • Choroidal 
  • Coats' Disease
  • Coloboma 
  • Congenital Cataract
  • Norrie's Disease 
  • PHPV 
  • Refractive Error 
  • Retinal Detachment
  • Retinal Dysplasia 
  • Retinopathy of Prematurity (ROP)
  • Retinoblastoma
  • Strabismus
  • Toxocariasis 
  • Trauma

How to Detect the Glow

Pediatricians can easily screen for Coats' Disease, Retinoblastoma, and a host of other serious vision disorders using a simple red-reflex test. This test is generally performed by a child's pediatrician at a well-child exam, preferably within the first two months.

What Parents Should Know

Many times, parents are the first to notice a white or golden glow reflected back from their child's eye in a photograph. Below are a few steps to help you be able to detect the glow.

  • Take a few flash photographs of your child in different lighting
  • Look through the photos to see if you detect a white glow in either or both eyes
  • Alternatively, you may ask your pediatrician to perform a red-reflex screening.

If you believe you have seen a glow, you should obtain a referral immediately to a pediatric ophthalmologist for diagnosis and treatment.

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