Skip to Main Content

Retinoblastoma in Kids

Sylvester’s Alex’s Place

More than simply a treatment site for children with cancer and blood diseases, alex’s place is a space designed to empower our young patients and support their families.

Retinoblastoma (RB) is a rare form of cancer. It affects light-sensitive retinal cells that help our eyes to see. It is the most common eye (ocular) malignancy in children and the third most common cancer in children. From 250 to 350 new cases are diagnosed each year in America. Approximately 90% occur in children under five years of age.

There are two types of retinoblastoma; one hereditary and affecting both eyes (10% of cases) and the other type non-hereditary, affecting only one eye. In all cases, genetic counseling is important for children with a germ-line mutation. This disease is so rare that it is critical to have your child treated at an institution that specializes in retinoblastoma, such as Sylvester.

Experts from Bascom Palmer Eye Institute work, leaders in their field, work with the leaders of pediatric oncology at Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center.

Why Choose Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center?

Sylvester is an NCI-designated cancer center. The National Cancer Institute has recognized Sylvester for its outstanding work conducting research in its laboratories, treating patients in its clinics and hospitals, and reaching out to medically underserved communities with innovative prevention strategies.

Localized treatment. Sylvester in the only center in the Southeastern U.S. and one of only four or five in the country that is highly skilled at a treatment called intra-arterial chemotherapy, that provides more localized treatment, sparing the child from systemic treatment and greatly reducing the need to remove the eye.

Personalized recommendations. Whether you have a familial predisposition to particular cancers, or you want your child to stay healthy long-term, we keep your goals in mind when developing your screening and treatment schedules.

Bascom Palmer Eye Institute ranked #1 by U.S. News & World Report. Bascom Palmer Eye Institute is the top-rated facility in the country for the treatment of diseases and disorders of the eye, according to U.S. News & World Report. When you choose us for your eye care, you will receive the best care in the nation in a compassionate setting.

Questions? We're here to help.

Our appointment specialists are ready to help you find what you need. Contact us today.


  • Periocular Chemotherapy

    For some advanced intraocular cancers, higher doses of chemo can be directly applied to the eye without the systemic side effects.

  • Intravitreal Chemotherapy

    Chemotherapy is applied into the vitreous humor, the jelly-like substance inside the eye. This is a newer treatment approach.

  • Radiation Therapy

    Intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) can better target the tumor and spare nearby normal tissues.

  • Laser Therapy

    Photocoagulation is the technical name for when a laser beam is aimed through the pupil and focused on the blood vessels that surround and supply the tumor. The process destroys cancer cells with heat.

  • Enucleation and Eye Prosthesis

    Enucleation is the removal of the eye and part of the optic nerve. This is performed only when vision cannot be restored and when a large tumor has spread to the optic nerve. It may be performed if the tumor is causing high pressure inside the eye. After surgery, your child can be fitted for an artificial eye to match the size and color of the other eye.

  • Intra-Arterial Chemotherapy

    This newer approach may be used instead of systemic chemotherapy. Chemotherapy gets injected directly into the ophthalmic artery, the main artery that supplies blood to the eye. The process can be repeated every few weeks, depending on the tumor's shrinkage rate.


Often, a retinoblastoma is found when you notice that your child’s eye(s) appear to have white centers in flash photos. If this happens, request a pediatric ophthalmic evaluation immediately. That may include:

  • Eye Exam

    Your eye doctor will conduct an eye exam to determine what's causing your child's signs and symptoms.

  • Imaging Tests

    Scans and imaging tests help us determine if retinoblastoma is growing and impacting areas outside the eye. Tests include ultrasound, computerized tomography (CT) scan and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).

Accepted Insurances

Note: Health plans that are currently contracted with UHealth are listed below. However, please check with your insurance provider to verify that UHealth is part of your provider network.