Flash photo reveals cancer in toddler's eye

The eye on the left (his right eye) is shown with the 'glow' that indicated a problem with Jaxson's eye.
The eye on the left (his right eye) is shown with the 'glow' that indicated a problem with Jaxson's eye. Photo: Owen Scrivens

With photo technology now becoming so advanced that flash photography is rarely needed, the dreaded 'red eye' is not so much of a problem. However one dad is urging parents to take more flash photos of their children after one of his toddler revealed a serious health concern.

Toddler Jaxson Scrivens is fortunate his father is a medical student. Born 5 weeks early, with no serious health issues, Jaxson had grown into an active toddler, when dad Owen noticed a 'glow' in his son's eye in a photo taken with the flash on.

One eye shows the normal 'red eye,' where the flash captures the colour of a normal retina. The other eye, however, has a distinct glow, white in colour and indicative of 14-month-old Jaxson's growing Retinoblastoma, a rare form of childhood eye cancer.

"I looked through some old photos and you actually can see the point where it changes in late November," said Owen, who cares for Jaxson part time while completing his medical studies. "There'd been nothing else wrong, although after we noticed the eye colour he started to develop a bit of a squint."

A GP who had "never seen anything like it in 17 years" of practice referred the UK toddler to hospital. He was then sent on to London to see the top eye specialists at the Royal London Hospital where he was diagnosed. 

Jaxson received his first chemotherapy only one month after his father noticed the small sign that could have been so easily missed.

The photo below shows the tumour, which, thanks to chemotherapy, has been reduced in size by two thirds.

Photo: GoFundMe
Retinoblastoma rarely occurs after age five and if caught early, has a good chance of being treated effectively. The family has set up a GoFundMe campaign where Jaxson's parents have extensively detailed his journey.
"Chemotherapy has made me lose my hair, made me sick, tired, weak and everything I eat tastes like metal although now I have a lot of meds to try and control the sickness," a message on the page reads."The side effects make me a very grizzly boy."
Owen tells Metro that "After the chemo he's very sick for a couple of days, he's just not his usual self and doesn't want to do anything, but after a few days he gets back to his usual happy self." He urges people to share the information so that other cases can be detected early.
"We really want to raise awareness of this cancer – it's something so simple to spot, it doesn't come up in every photo and not everyone will be able to spot it but a lot of people will," he said.
Things to look for include eye misalignment, consistently-enlarged pupil, poor vision, pain in the eye, and irises of different colours. You can also download the  White Eye Detector app for iPhone.
Photo: GoFundMe