Research Tracks

A publication of the Office of the Vice Provost for Research at Baylor University

Video: Baylor and Harvard Medical School research shows how digital photography can make a rare pediatric eye cancer easier to detect

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New research by Dr. Bryan Shaw, an assistant professor of chemistry and biochemistry in Baylor’s College of Arts and Sciences, suggests that digital photography can help parents and doctors detect a rare form of pediatric cancer.

In the video above, Shaw explains how he and his wife noticed early in their son Noah’s life that in some pictures, his right eye glowed white instead of red — a condition called leukocoria or “white eye.”  Noah would later be diagnosed with retinoblastoma, a rare eye cancer.  Leukocoria has long been known as a marker of advanced retinoblastoma, but Shaw and his wife had noticed the effect in some of their earliest baby pictures, beginning when Noah was just 12 days old.  The discovery made Shaw curious as to whether white eye in an infant’s pictures might indicate retinoblastoma early enough to improve treatment options for children with the disease.

In collaboration with Noah’s doctors at Harvard Medical School, Shaw analyzed thousands of photographs of Noah and other retinoblastoma patients.  Their research revealed that the white glow can show up in pictures earlier in the disease’s progression than was previously believed, and that the degree of leukocoria correlates with the size of tumors present.  The discovery may help parents seek diagnosis sooner and improve the prognosis for children afflicted with this serious form of cancer.

Shaw’s research, published recently in the journal PLOS ONE, has been covered in a variety of media outlets.  Click the links below to learn more.

One Comment

  1. The Childhood Eye Cancer Trust (CHECT) welcomes your study, which has finally confirmed what we have long been aware of and have been urging parents and health professionals to look out for too. We would be very interested to hear of any plans you may have to further this research in the future and would be happy to link to details of your study on our website where appropriate. Well done!

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