This systematic review and meta-analysis investigates trends in global retinoblastoma survival and globe preservation during the past 40 years. The review included 314 studies, 38 130 patients from 80 regions globally presenting during 1980–2020. 255 articles were entered for time-trend meta-analysis, covering 29 106 patients from 73 countries. Both overall survival (from 79% [95% CI 74–84] to 88% [83–93]; p=0·017) and globe salvage rate (from 22% [14–32] to 44% [36–52]; p=0·0003) improved significantly over the four decades. Wide disparities were observed between higher-income and lower-income countries. Overall survival, globe salvage, and globe salvage for advanced intraocular disease correlated positively with income level. Higher overall survival was associated with lower Gini index (p=0·0001) and with populations that had smaller percentages living in rural areas (p=0·0005). Higher globe salvage was associated with better health-care financing and accessibility (p=0·030). Overall survival (p=0·0024) and globe salvage (p=0·022) were both associated positively with education level. Survival gaps were observed in sub-Saharan Africa and southeast and southwest Asia. In conclusion, retinoblastoma treatment outcomes have improved globally over the past four decades but large disparities persist between higher-income and lower-income countries, with some areas having major survival gaps. Targeted health-care policy making with increased health-care financing and accessibility are needed in low-income and lower-middle-income countries to improve retinoblastoma outcomes worldwide.