The telltale “glow” in this photo helped a dad spot his baby’s cancer

Jaxson Scrivens

Medical student and dad Owen Scrivens noticed something weird in this photo of his baby boy, 14-month-old Jaxson. His detective skills have almost certainly saved his son’s vision.

The glow

A tiny detail in a photo of Jaxson, a glowing white pupil, alerted this dad to the fact that something might be amiss.

The little boy had previously seemed healthy and happy, despite being born 5 weeks early, but the unsettling glow led Owen to do some research and seek further medical advice.

“I looked through some old photos and you actually can see the point where it changes in late November,” the observant dad told Metro.

“There’d been nothing else wrong, although after we noticed the eye colour he started to develop a bit of a squint.”


Jaxsons' fight with cancer.


A worried Owen and his partner, Jaxson’s mum Emily, took their baby along to their doctor, keen to get to the bottom of things.

Their concerned GP referred the family to an eye specialist who discovered the little boy had a tumour – called Retinoblastoma – in his eye and would need to start cancer treatment as soon as possible.

Jaxson began chemotherapy in late December and despite the treatment making him very ill, Owen said the tumour has already been reduced to a third of its original size.

Doctors say the tumour will always be present in Jaxson’s eye and will need regular monitoring, but they are hoping to reduce it to a benign mass and, in the long term, save the little boy’s eye.


Jaxsons' fight with cancer.

Early detection push

The family have started a Go Fund Me to support a charity for children with terminal diseases and raise awareness of the tumour Jaxson has.

They want to spread the word far and wide about the telltale “glow” and ensure other families spot these cancers before they do too much damage.

Emily and Owen confirm that early detection of eye disease is vital, and that children can lose their eyes to cancer if the disease is not caught soon enough.

‘We really want to raise awareness of this cancer – it’s something so simple to spot, it doesn’t come up in every photo and not everyone will be able to spot it but a lot of people will,’ said Owen.

‘Some children at the hospital had both their eyes removed, which is horrible, and we want people to catch it early.

Caught early, the prognosis is positive for babies and children with retinoblastoma.

Turn on your flash

Experts suggest getting to Know The Glow, as many, many different eye diseases can sometimes be detected in flash photos of children (not just Retinoblastoma).

A cloudy, white or golden glow reflecting back from a child’s eye in photographs can be a sign that something’s amiss.

Other symptoms to check for include:

  • poorly aligned or “wandering” eye
  • reddish and/or painful pupil, often with pain
  • larger-than-normal pupil
  • different-coloured irises
  • poor vision or decreased vision

If you see something resembling this glow, or any of these other abnormalities in your child’s eye/s, seek immediate advice from your doctor or a children’s eye specialist.


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