Mum's warning after 'abnormal' glow in photos reveals rare eye cancer

Photos: Andrea noticed a 'glow' in her son's eyes when he was three-months-old. Instagram
Photos: Andrea noticed a 'glow' in her son's eyes when he was three-months-old. Instagram 

A mum is re-issuing an important warning after her son was diagnosed with a rare eye cancer when he was just four-months-old.

Andrea Temarantz was looking at photos of her baby boy, Ryder, when she noticed something unusual - a white 'glow' in the pupil of his eye whenever the flash was on. 

"Five years ago, I told Joey (my husband) the camera on my phone stinks," the US mum-of-two wrote on Instagram. "It makes Ryder's eye look funny unless I turn the flash off."

When her husband bought her a new Nikon camera for Christmas, Andrea was shocked to see the camera's flash revealed the same 'abornamal reflection' she had seen in previous photos. 

"Photo after photo looked like this," she continued in her post. "This was even worse than my mobile phone had been."

After taking Ryder to his paediatrician for his four-month check-up they were referred on for a proper eye examination with a specialist.

Tragically, the doctor diagnosed Retinoblastoma  - a rare type of cancer that starts in the retina. The glow in the photographs was a sign of something wrong in Ryder's eye.

"I had no idea that glow was getting worse because his tumor was getting bigger," she wrote in the post, alongside two photos including a close-up of the tumour. "I didn't know there's actually a name for that glow. Leukocoria: An abnormal reflection from the retina of the eye."

"It appears as a white, opaque, or yellow spot in the pupil of the eye in photos taken WITH flash."


A post shared by @downrightwild

While considering treatment, the hospital told Ryder's parents it was important to understand that chemotherapy puts children at a higher risk of getting leukemia.

According to Andrea, this was particularly concerning, because Ryder was born with Down syndrome, already putting him at a potentially higher risk. 

"Remarkably, Ryder only needed two rounds of chemo! The rest was laser treatment. The doctor said he can't say that has never happened before, but it's a rare miracle," she wrote in an essay for Love What Matters

"Ryder is now 5 years old and 4 years cancer free. He's been put under over 40 times," she continued, explaining he only had to go once a year for examinations to check for reoccurring tumours.

"This is a very spontaneous and fast growing cancer, so they have to keep a close eye on him. It kills me to look back. I think to myself about all the tears I cried because he was going to have Down syndrome."


A post shared by @downrightwild

Andrea is sharing her story and the photos again, as a warning to parents to never ignore 'the glow' in photos. 

One month after that top photo a Dr. handed us the bottom photo which is a close up of the tumor in his eye. 

"The number one question I get from people is "Should I say something about the glow to my friend?" My answer is always yes," she urged on her Instagram post.

"Like me, they probably have no idea it's abnormal. I put so many photos of Ryder just like this one on Facebook and no one said a word because people aren't aware."

Andrea explains that the flash on a camera essentially acts' the same way as a light being shined in your eye at the Dr's office'.

"Don't ignore what it is showing you. Although Retinoblastoma is rare, there are several other conditions that can be picked up when Leukocoria is detected. Speak up and help prevent childhood blindness," she concluded the post.

"I thank God everyday that I didn't forget to ask what I thought was a silly question..."Why does his eye glow like this in photos?"
Keep your flash on when taking photos.

You can follow Ryder's story on Instagram here and find out more information at @know_the_glow