The thought of detecting eye cancer in your child might seem scary, but a British nonprofit organization says it may be able to help you do that. The Childhood Eye Cancer Trust (Chect), which works with children affected by cancer, says smartphone cameras can help detect the presence of cancer in the eyes.

The smartphone technique is so effective, Chect claims, that it launched a public-awareness campaign May 10-16, which was World Retinoblastoma Awareness Week. Retinoblastoma generally affects children under age 5. Although a rare disease, it spreads quickly and affects the retina, the light-sensitive issue in the eye.

Retinoblastoma results in an abnormal appearance in the pupil of the affected child. The tumor inside the child's eye gives the pupil a white appearance in low artificial lighting, or in the camera flash used in taking a photo.

“Our hope is that, years from now, retinoblastoma ceases to exist, and no child ever has to experience the trauma of losing their eye, their sight, or their life. It’s this mission that drives our research into a cure for the disease -- which really is within our grasp,” Chect CEO Joy Felgate said, as the Spalding Guardian reported.

Felgate emphasized the need for early detection of the cancer, saying it could reduce the post-diagnosis trauma for the child and the affected family. Children with retinoblastoma undergo radiation therapy and also typically get a prosthetic eye, which needs to be fitted every six months.

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