Know The Glow to prevent childhood blindness

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  • July 6, 2015
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Simple photo detection can help children you love see fluffy blue clouds for years to come.

Leukocoria, or “The Glow,” is an abnormal red eye reflex common in several devastating childhood eye diseases that can lead to blindness. Nearly 1 in 80 children are at risk. With early detection, blindness is preventable. Fortunately, “The Glow” is detectable through simple flash photography, enabling parents worldwide to seek early diagnosis and treatment of sight- and life-threatening diseases.

Parents, relatives or friends are often the first to spot “The Glow” in photos. If you see a white or yellow glow in a child’s eye, there are steps you can take to help save sight.

How-to spot “The Glow”

Review your child’s photos for “The Glow” every couple of months using these simple steps. The best way to detect “The Glow” is with a traditional digital or film camera. Photos with the following criteria are most likely to display authentic Leukocoria:

  • Uncorrected: Leukocoria may not be visible in photos taken by cameras equipped with redeye correction or those that are redeye retouched.
  • Head-on: Different camera angles reflect light differently and can sometimes show a false glow.  “The Glow” is more likely to be Leukocoria if it is present in children looking directly at the camera. For reasons unknown, photos taken with smartphones can also create sporadic false positives, so look for multiple occasions of “The Glow” in the same eye.
  • Flash photos: Flash photography shot at night against a dark background best reflects “The Glow.” Leukocoria is likely to be present if these photos also show redeye in other individuals.
  • What about smartphone photos? Be aware that “pseudo Leukocoria” tends to occur with smartphones. Smartphone developers are investigating this issue, so for now the recommendation is to check for “The Glow” on multiple devices and occasions.
  • Look for “The Glow.” A consistent white or golden pupil in one eye, similar to a cat’s eye reflection, may indicate Leukocoria. Early detection is the best way to protect childhood vision.
  • If you see “The Glow” once, be alert. If you see it twice, be active. If “The Glow” appears in multiple photographs, share them with your pediatrician or a pediatric ophthalmologist. A Red Eye Reflex Test can verify Leukocoria or glow-related conditions.

During a Red Eye Reflex Test a physician dilates your child’s eye and shines a light in the back of the eye using an ophthalmoscope. A white reflection indicates Leukocoria while an orange-colored reflection is normal. Have more questions about glow detection? Review the FAQs on the Know The Glow website.

Spread the word. Share your story. 

Together, we can ensure that more children see the beauty in every life milestone.


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About Know The Glow

Megan Webber, Sandra Roderick, Lannette Turricchi and Dr. Tom Lee founded Know The Glow in 2010 after Webber’s son, Benjamin, was diagnosed and treated for the glow-related disease known as Coats’ Disease. Leukocoria (“The Glow”) is an abnormal red-eye reflex, common to 16 potentially devastating childhood eye diseases as well as the leading preventable cause of childhood blindness. Fortunately, “The Glow” is detectable through simple flash photography, enabling parents worldwide to seek diagnosis and treatment at the earliest stages of these sight and life threatening diseases. For more information, visit: www.knowtheglow.org. Learn more on their Facebook page.

Know The Glow Co-Founder Megan Webber

In September of 2009 Megan’s son, Benjamin, then age five was diagnosed with Coats’ Disease. His journey ultimately sparked the Know The Glow campaign. Megan is also on the Advisory Board of The Vision Center at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles and Co-Chair of BrightEyes, a volunteer organization dedicated to supporting the doctors and patients at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles.

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