Eye Care: The Wonders of Technology

What You Should Know About Treating A Retinoblastoma

by Stella Robinson

If you have a child that has been having trouble with their eyes, such as disturbances in their vision or even pain or pressure in or behind their eyes, you may assume that they just need glasses or have some kind of head cold or sinus issue. However, if you go to your child's eye doctor for an eye exam and they end up receiving a diagnosis of a retinoblastoma, you may be confused as how to handle the situation. Before you panic, get to know some of the treatment options available to your child so that you can be sure your child gets the best care possible.

Cryotherapy or Thermotherapy

If your child was lucky enough to have their retinoblastoma diagnosed when it is still small, there are quite a few more treatment options available than if the tumor is larger. Small retinoblastoma tumors can be treated using either cryotherapy or thermotherapy.

Cryotherapy is a form of treatment that uses extreme cold to freeze and destroy the tumors. This is done using a metal probe that is inserted into the eye while your child is under general anesthesia. A retinal surgeon or surgical oncologist can perform this process in which the probe is cooled several times throughout the session. Several sessions may be required for this treatment option to be fully effective.

Thermotherapy is another treatment option for your child's retinoblastoma if it is small. This treatment uses concentrated infrared light energy in the form of a laser to apply high heat to the tumors your child has in or behind their eyes. Your child will be asleep for these brief treatments and the process is repeated a few times before it can be considered effective.

Thermotherapy and cryotherapy are both sometimes paired with chemotherapy and/or radiation therapy in a combined treatment effort. Chemotherapy and radiation therapy are, of course, the most common cancer treatments for retinoblastomas and virtually all other cancers and can often be combined in various ways to more comprehensively attack tumors and cancer cells.


If the chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and cryotherapy or thermotherapy are not effective in treating a retinoblastoma or if the tumor is so large that your child's vision is permanently impaired, surgery may be the remaining treatment option for your child. The surgical procedure is known as enucleation.

Enucleation is the surgical removal of the entire eye along with the retinoblastoma tumor. In the same procedure that removes the eye, a surgeon can put in a prosthetic eye that helps to maintain face and skull shape, though your child will not be able to see using the prosthetic.

If only one eye is affected, your child will still be able to see and will learn to compensate. Also, if only one eye has a large tumor and the other has a smaller retinoblastoma, your child could receive other treatments for the smaller tumors to avoid having to remove both eyes. To learn more, speak with a business like Las Vegas Family Eye Care.