Retinoblastoma is a rare type of aggressive eye cancer that almost exclusively affects young children. The disease develops as a tumor in the retina. The Childhood Eye Cancer Trust (CHECT), a British non-profit organization working in the field of childhood cancer has revealed that flash from the smartphone camera can detect eye cancer generally found in children under the age of five. Children who have the disease often have a white glow around their pupils that shows up when they are photographed with a flash.
Using the smartphone, the research team at the charity has saved the life of British mother Eilise Somers' four-month-old daughter Arwen who was suffering from retinoblastoma. CHECT chief executive Joy Felgate said, "Our hope is that our research will mean no child ever has to experience the trauma of losing their eye, their sight or their life through eye cancer."
When a tumor grows inside a child's eye, it can reflect back as a white pupil in flash photos and if spotted early, it could save a child's vision, eyes and life. Smartphone cameras as a diagnostic tool are so effective that CHECT ran an ad campaign last year. They put up posters of children's eyes that flashed white when photographed thanks to the use of reflective ink.
CHECT said, "With the average person spending hours of their life staring at their phone screen, they should put the devices to better use to look for the eye disease." However, doctors feel that spotting a white flash in a child's pupil is not a definitive diagnosis of retinoblastoma but it is always worth following up.