White spots in eyes mean it's time to seek physician viewpoint

A photograph may provide the first sign of an eye abnormality.

Flash photography is similar to an ophthalmoscope, a lighted instrument used to examine the interior of the eye, says Dr. Nick Hogan, an ophthalmologist at UT Southwestern Medical Center.

“A red reflex that appears in people’s eyes is caused by a reflection off the retina,” Dr. Hogan says. “It appears red because of the blood.”

That is normal, says Dr. Hogan, but if a white or iridescent pupil is noticeable in a photograph, a visit to an ophthalmologist or a pediatrician for evaluation may be of value.

“Leukocoria, or white pupil, is caused by something blocking the red reflex,” Dr. Hogan says. “Absence of blood in the retina would have to be extreme to reduce the red reflex, and that would be enough to kill the retina, hence no reflection.”

The most common causes of leukocoria in children include glaucoma and uveitis (inflammation of the middle layer of the eye).

Visit http://www.utsouthwestern.org/ophth to learn more about UT Southwestern’s clinical services in ophthalmology.

Media Contact: Russell Rian

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