The idea of your child having an eye removed is shocking, an extremely difficult thing for a parent to cope with, says Baker Hubbard, MD, Thomas M. Aaberg Professor of Ophthalmology, and a pediatric ocular oncologist. Actually, says Hubbard, most children who lose an eye adapt very well and enjoy essentially normal lives.
Retinoblastoma is cancer that forms in the tissues of the retina (the light-sensitive layers of nerve tissue at the back of the eye). Retinoblastoma usually occurs in children younger than age five. It may be hereditary or nonhereditary (sporadic), and is caused by mutations in genes.
To six-year-old Emilia McKibbin, having a prosthetic eye is no big deal. She knows to protect itâ€”wearing her glasses for school and playtime, donning a scuba mask at the beachâ€”but it doesnâ€™t limit her choices.
Following her interests, Emilia has earned a gold belt in karate. Sheâ€™s learning gymnastics. She swims. She loves to romp with Daisy, her black cocker spaniel. And while most people donâ€™t even notice that one of this little girlâ€™s shining dark-brown eyes is different from the other, Emilia shares her story with a few. â€œI tell my teachers and my friends that I have a special eye,â€ she says.