Academic researchers working to create pediatric eye cancer detection software

Academic researchers have published a study in which they have discovered evidence of leukocoria, or "white eye," in digital photography, the principal symptom of retinoblastoma, which can be seen in photographs during the earliest stages of the pediatric eye cancer.

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Baylor University and Harvard Medical School researchers have discovered through the use of amateur digital photography evidence of leukocoria, or "white eye," principal symptom of retinoblastoma, which can be seen in photographs during the earliest stages of the disease. As a result, these researchers are laying the groundwork for creatingdiagnostic software to alert parents to the potential signs of the aggressive pediatric eye cancer retinoblastoma.

Bryan F. Shaw, Ph.D., assistant professor of chemistry and biochemistry atBaylor’s College of Arts and Sciences, and lead author of the study, first noticed his son Noah's "white eye" in family photographs, and it was Noah’s battle with retinoblastoma that inspired Shaw to begin to try and make digital photography a deliberate tool in retinoblastoma screening.

Following this discovery, the study, which was published online inPLOS ONE, was initiated, where more than 7,000 recreational baby photographs of nine retinoblastoma patients and 19 children without the disease were analyzed. Shaw determined by looking at photos of his son and quantifying the daily occurrence of leukocoria, that the white eye is not necessarily a symptom of advanced retinoblastoma, but that leukocoria can be a symptom of retinoblastoma in its earliest stages, for example, at 12 days old as in Noah's case.

Shaw was also able to conclude that themeasurement of color concentration was lower in the eye with the larger tumors, showing that not only can amateur photographs alert parents to a potential case, but also inform a physician of the disease’s severity.

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