Parents love snapping pictures of their kids in both big and small moments. And it’s the worst when your kids won’t cooperate and avoid the camera, or when they have red eyes in a photo. But if you notice that your child’s eye has a white glow, it could be a sign of a rare eye cancer.
Although there are several other potential causes for this “white eye,” a severe one is retinoblastoma—a rare form of eye cancer that affects babies and children under the age of six. The first sign of this cancer is white eye or leukocoria: a white pupil or a reflex from one eye in a flash photograph. The other eye usually has a normal “red reflex,” or red eye, according to Howard R. Krauss, MD, surgical neuro-ophthalmologist and clinical professor of ophthalmology and neurosurgery at John Wayne Cancer Institute at Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, California. White eye might also be visible when your child is in a dark or artificially lit room, according to the Childhood Eye Cancer Trust. These are 50 other health symptoms you shouldn’t ignore.
Retinoblastoma accounts for about 2 percent of all childhood cancers, and only 200 to 300 are diagnosed each year in the United States, according to the American Cancer Society (ACS). “In most cases, this asymmetric reflex is a sign of some other type of problem warranting attention, rather than cancer,” Dr. Krauss says. Other serious but non-cancerous causes of white eye include Coats’ disease, cataracts, persistent hyperplastic primary vitreous (PHPV), and toxocariasis, according to Dr. Krauss.
On the other hand, white eye isn’t the only symptom or sign of retinoblastoma either. Kids might also have vision loss in one eye, experience redness, irritation or pain in one eye, misalignment of one eye, or a delay in eye growth or development, Dr. Krauss says. Here are 15 things cancer doctors do to avoid cancer.
If you think your child has white eye or is experiencing any painful eye symptoms, it’s a good idea to take them to their pediatrician who should already be routinely checking them for eye problems. Neglected childhood eye issues may become uncorrectable if they go undetected and untreated, Dr. Kraus warns. In fact, early detection is key for kids with retinoblastoma. Nine out of ten children in the United States with the cancer are cured, but the odds aren’t as good if the cancer lingers and spreads outside of the eye, per the ACS, so it’s worth keeping an extra eye on those of your children. Don’t forget to schedule regular doctor visits so a medical professional can check your kids’ eyes too. In the meantime, you’ll want to watch out for these 42 strange symptoms that can signal a serious disease.
Wear gloves when working in the garden, and always wash up before heading inside. Additionally, avoid backyard burning of household trash.
Your big, comfy couch
Your favorite sofa could be killing you, and not just because it lures you away from activity: Many sofas, mattresses, and other cushioned furniture are treated with TDCIPP, a flame retardant known to cause cancer (i.e., a carcinogen). TDCIPP was used so frequently prior to 2013 that a study out of Duke University found it in the blood of everyone they tested. It's also one of ten chemicals most frequently found in household dust, according to this study.
Cadmium is a carcinogenic byproduct of cigarette smoke. If you smoke in your house, cadmium and other cigarette smoke by-products may be lurking, especially on soft surfaces such as curtains and carpet—even long after the smell of smoke is gone. There's even such a thing as third-hand smoke and it's resistant to even the strongest cleaning products. Here's where you can learn more about third-hand smoke and its dangers.
Chromium (VI) is a known carcinogen found in tanned leather, wood furniture, certain dyes and pigments used in textiles, and cement. To give you an idea of the prevalence of chromium VI, one study out of Denmark found that almost half of imported leather shoes and sandals contained some level of the carcinogen.
What can you do?
As with TCIPP, pay attention to labeling. And don't be shy about asking questions of your furniture salesperson.
Your old fridge
According to cancer.org, carcinogenic PCBs can turn up in old appliances, fluorescent lighting fixtures, and electrical transformers. While no longer commercially produced in the United States, PCBs are still manufactured and used in developing countries, and of all PCBs ever produced, up to 70 percent are still in the environment. Diet is another major source of exposure, according to Gushée.
What can you do?
Get rid of those old appliances and fluorescent light fixtures. Pay attention to advisories regarding PCB-contaminated fish and fish-eating wildlife.
Your cleaning products
Formaldehyde is a known carcinogen found at home in food, cosmetics, a variety of cleaning products (such as dishwashing liquids, fabric softeners, and carpet cleaners), paint, foam insulation, and on permanent press fabrics. In addition, you can be exposed by breathing smoke from gas cookers and open fireplaces.
The dry-cleaning chemical perchloroethylene (tetrachloroethylene or "perc") is a carcinogen that can build up wherever you store your dry-cleaned clothes. It's also found in spot removers, shoe polish, and wood cleaners.
Phthalates are suspected of causing cancer and may adversely affect human reproduction or development. They're found in vinyl flooring, shower curtains, synthetic leather, miniblinds, wallpaper, and anything made with PVC vinyl. They're also found in food packaged in plastic.
Everyone knows arsenic is poisonous, but in smaller doses, it's also carcinogenic. Yet you can find it in foods you probably eat regularly—including chicken, rice, and certain fruit juices, as well as in degreasing products, dyes, furniture wax, glues, lubricants, nylon, and paints.
Asbestos has been out of favor for decades, thankfully, but you can still find it in the insulation of older homes. As the insulation eventually deteriorates, asbestos fibers become airborne. Since asbestos fibers stick to clothing and shoes, workers exposed to asbestos on the job can also bring asbestos into their homes.
Styrene is a known carcinogen widely used in the manufacturing of polystyrene plastics, which can be made into foam and rigid plastic products such as cups, plates, trays, utensils, packaging, and packing peanuts. Styrene may leach into your hot coffee or soup if you're using styrofoam containers. It's also present in cigarette smoke and in all of these home maintenance, automotive, and crafting products. What can you do? Avoid using styrofoam to hold hot foods and liquids, and read your product labels carefully. Find out the 12 foods you should never microwave.
Pantry pests and other creepy crawlies can carry disease. But if you eliminate them using chemical pesticides, you're increasing your risk of cancer. Chemical pesticides include those that you use on your pets, such as flea collars and tick-repellant.
Radon is formed naturally from the radioactive decay of uranium in rocks and soil. It raises the risk of lung cancer—especially if you also smoke, says Ashley Sumrall, MD, FACP, a Charlotte-based oncologist. If you live in an area where the amount of uranium and radium in rocks is high, you can be exposed to radon through cracks in your foundation. You can also be exposed to radon if you have a granite countertops.