August is Children’s Eye Health and Safety Month. In honor of this, we are highlighting Pediatric Retinoblastoma and the journey one local family experienced from diagnosis to treatment and recovery.

For the first 6 months of her life, Norah Celinski passed every check-up with flying colors. By all accounts she was a perfectly healthy baby, hitting her milestones.

That all changed at her 6-month well baby check-up. It was at that time that her pediatrician noticed that her eyelids were a bit droopy. Despite this concern, the physician did not conduct the routine eye test generally done at 6 months of age.

“We were told that it was likely Ptosis, or drooping of the eyelids, and to go see an ophthalmologist for a second opinion. Luckily I was able to get in to see a specialist the next week due to a recent cancellation, otherwise, we wouldn’t have been seen for a month. During that appointment, Norah was diagnosed with Pediatric Retinoblastoma,” explained Norah’s mom, Rachael Celinski.

At that initial exam, Norah’s eyes were dilated and the doctor found a half-inch tumor the retina of her right eye.

“He Said If We Had Waited It Could Easily Have Spread To Her Brain.”

Rachael was shocked when the doctor found the tumor and even more appalled when he told her it had likely been present since birth and that, had they waited to see him, the tumor could easily have spread to her brain and caused blindness and death.

“We kept thinking, why wasn’t it found at any of her check-ups? We were seeing the pediatrician every month.”

Diagnosing Pediatric Retinoblastoma

Unfortunately, Norah’s story isn’t that unusual. Our Orlando medical malpractice attorney, William Ruffier, specializes in Pediatric Retinoblastoma cases and he explains that the disease is sometimes missed or misdiagnosed. Although the tumors are fast-growing, pediatricians are supposed to screen for the disease at well-baby appointments, which occur every 1-3 months for the first year.

Still, there are signs parents can look for that can aid a diagnosis. Common signs and symptoms of Pediatric Retinoblastoma include:

  • A white reflection in the eye instead of the usual red, as you might see in a photograph
  • Strabismus, or crossed eyes
  • Visions problems
  • Eye pain
  • Bleeding in the front part of the eye
  • Bulging of the eye
  • A pupil that doesn’t get smaller when exposed to bright light
  • A different color in each iris

Learn more facts about Pediatric Retinoblastoma by clicking here.

Up next: Part 2 of Rachel and Norah’s Story: Pediatric Retinoblastoma Treatment.