In flash photography, we are all very familiar with the dreaded “red-eye effect” when we take a photo of a subject looking directly at the camera: the camera catches and records the reflections of the flash from the blood-rich retina at the back of the eyes. These red eye reflections are in fact a good sign, indicating that the retinas of both eyes are unobstructed and healthy.
But what if you notice a golden glow, or what a pediatric ophthalmologist calls, an “abnormal red reflex?” A white, yellow (gold) or black reflection in one or both eyes can be a warning sign for the presence of a childhood eye disease that can lead to blindness.
Do note that, if you notice a white reflection in your child’s eye, very often, a white reflex may not actually signal anything abnormal, especially if the child is not looking directly at the camera or may have shifted his or her eyes.
However, to be sure, a prompt visit to your child’s pediatrician or a pediatric ophthalmologist is in order. Do not forget to bring the photo with you, even though they will perform their own tests using an ophthalmoscope to make the right diagnosis.
To learn more about this condition and how you can potentially save a child’s eyes, read the story of the mom who founded Knowtheglow.org:
When Megan Webber downloaded her family photos from her digital camera, she found the usual problems that need touching up — some were too dark, some were a little grainy, and some needed a little red-eye removal. Some of the pictures of her 5-year-old son, Benjamin, had a golden glow in his left eye.
Tempted to brush it off, she mentioned it to her sister, who described seeing a similar glow in a family vacation photo. She took Benjamin to a pediatrician who found nothing but sent him to a specialist at the Children’s Hospital Los Angeles who diagnosed and treated Benjamin for Coats’ Disease, preserving his remaining sight.
Megan is now determined that others learn from her experience, and is the driving force behind the “Know The Glow” campaign.
“Had I known about the glow earlier, Dr. Lee could have saved more of Ben’s vision,” said Megan. “Knowing what it felt like to possibly face a fatal outcome and knowing that I ignored such a huge red flag that was right there in front of me, I don’t want another parent to have to suffer through that or another child to needlessly lose their sight or their eyes due to a lack of awareness of the glow!”
Very often, relatives and family friends are the first to notice the white or golden glow in the many photos of children that their parents post on social sites. If you suspect that your child or a friend’s child may have the glow, let them know.