'Know About the Glow' campaign aims to stop deadly eye disease in children by educating parents

A mother's photograph becomes a journey to support doctor's efforts to detect and treat eye disease earlier. 

Media Contact: Amanda Hedlund, (323) 361-7691

Benjamin Webber
Photo Courtesy of Megan Webber

Email: ahedlund@chla.usc.edu

LOS ANGELES – November 15, 2010 – A glow in six-year old Benjamin Webber’s eye that appeared periodically in family photographs and was mistaken as a freckle, could have led to a lifetime of blindness.  Fortunately for Megan Webber, she discovered that this glow could be a sign of a deadly eye disease.  With help from the doctors in The Vision Center at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, Benjamin was diagnosed and treated early enough to save his sight. 

When Webber realized Benjamin’s life could have been in jeopardy had no one caught the glow in his eye, she was inspired to join forces with The Vision Center at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles to launch, ‘Know About the Glow,’ a campaign to share an educational message with other parents around the world – that a golden glow reflected back from a child’s eye in a flash photograph can be an indicator of eye disease or cancer. This viral campaign is taking the lead in promoting early detection and treatment of preventable blinding diseases like retinoblastoma, Coats’ Disease, Norrie’s Disease, and many other devastating, yet common, eye conditions.  

“Critical and life-threatening eye diseases can be missed by a child’s pediatrician because the glow isn’t always apparent in the exam room.  Parents will often notice a white or golden glow in a dimly lit room or by a photograph where the pupil is larger and dilated,” said Thomas C. Lee, MD, director of the Retina Institute in The Vision Center at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. “Mrs. Webber’s willingness to spread the ‘Know About the Glow’ message to the community is beyond our expectations, and we are truly honored to work with her to save the lives and sight of children.” 

“I discovered my son had blinding eye disease by accident,” said Webber. “My sister noticed a white reflection that kept reappearing in Benjamin’s eye in our summer vacation photos and alerted me that this could potentially be a sign of a tumor. I became extremely concerned and took Benjamin to his pediatrician, but I was immediately referred to the eye doctors in The Vision Center, who diagnosed him with Coats’ Disease.” 

Coats’ Disease is an eye disorder involving undeveloped blood vessels of the retina leading to a detachment in one eye. Through early treatment, vision can often be restored. The statistics are staggering, as one in 80 children will have a glow in either one or both eyes.  The white reflection can indicate a number of eye diseases of which 80% could be prevented from blindness.  

Children learn how to see in the first few years of life, so it is important for the brain to receive images that are properly formed in order for the visual system to complete its development.  Benjamin was, initially, legally blind in his diseased eye, but through a series of treatments and therapy, he has regained some vision.

Webber and the doctors of The Vision Center would like parents to be the driving factor in the ‘Know About the Glow’ campaign, which is comprised of an easily sharable link.  When parents visit the link, they are greeted with videos and information about the Webber family’s story and instructions for parents.  

By sharing the Webber’s story virtually, The Vision Center at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles is leveraging the power of e-mail and social networks to empower parents with information they can use before the holiday season.  They encourage families to pay attention to holiday photos and if an abnormal reflection is present, see a pediatrician or pediatric ophthalmologist immediately. 

To learn more about the glow or to make a donation to support research for better treatments and cures for childhood eye disease, visit: www.knowabouttheglow.com

About Children’s Hospital Los Angeles: Founded in 1901, Children’s Hospital Los Angeles is one of the nation’s leading children’s hospitals and is acknowledged worldwide for its leadership in pediatric and adolescent health. Children’s Hospital Los Angeles is one of only seven children’s hospitals in the nation – and the only children’s hospital on the West Coast – ranked for two consecutive years in all 10 pediatric specialties in the U.S. News & World Report rankings and named to the magazine’s “Honor Roll” of children’s hospitals. The Saban Research Institute at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles is among the largest and most productive pediatric research facilities in the United States, with 100 investigators at work on 186 laboratory studies, clinical trials and community-based research and health services. The Saban Research Institute is ranked eighth in National Institutes of Health funding among children’s hospitals in the United States. Children’s Hospital Los Angeles is a premier teaching hospital and has been affiliated with the Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California since 1932.


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