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Dr. Max Gomez: Lack Of Red-Eye In Children’s Photos Could Signal A Serious Problem

CBS New York (con't)

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NEW YORK(CBSNewYork) — Most people are familiar with the eerie red eyes that sometimes show up in flash photos now, experts say that if they don’t show up in pictures of young children it could be a sign of a serious health problem.

It has happened to every parent, a cute picture of a baby comes out looking like something out of a bad horror movie. The red-eye is the flash that bounces off of the blood vessels in the retina at the back of the eye.

As CBS 2’s Dr. Max Gomez reported, if you see something other than red it could be a problem.

“If there’s something blocking that or something abnormal with the eye or if the eye is off-center it can give a white or yellowish reflection,” Pediatric Ophthalmologist, Dr. Michael Hunt explained.

Makenzie and Madison Forman’s parents noticed that Makenzie’s eyes were different from her twin sisters.

“It was Memorial Day Weekend, 2011. We just happened to have her in a bouncy chair laying in the living room. When I went to pick her up, I just noticed in her eye, a hollowness,” Matt said.

That hollowness can indicate several medical conditions from a cataract to a detached retina. In rare cases it could indicate a cancer called retinoblastoma.

“It can spread outside the eye and be fatal if it’s not picked up soon enough,” Dr. Hunt said.

Makenzie had a tumor in her left eye. She was just 6-months-old when she started chemotherapy and doctors eventually removed the eye.

When the Formans looked back through Makenzie’s baby photos they realized that her left pupil showed up white for some time.

“If I was aware of that as a parent we definitely could have looked into it early on,” Becky Forman said.

Retinoblastoma is rare, cataracts are a little more common, both need to be found and treated early. That’s why taking a good look at your child’s photos is a good idea. If you suspect anything point it out to your pediatrician.

Some flash cameras cause pupils to close down to minimize red-eye, so parents should also be on the look out for a white or yellowish color.

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