All You Need To Know About Eye Cancer: What Are The Common Signs And Symptoms

Cancer can also spread to eye from cancers of breast and lung which is known as secondary eye cancer.

Many people with eye cancer or eye melanoma don’t have symptoms unless cancer grows in certain parts of the eye or becomes more advanced. Other, less serious conditions can also cause many of these symptoms.

For example, floaters can be a normal part of the ageing process. Still, if you have any of these symptoms, it’s important to see a doctor right away so the cause can be found and treated, if needed.

What are the types of eye cancer?

Dr. Abhishek Shankar, Assistant Professor, Department of Radiation Oncology, Lady Hardinge Medical College & Associated Hospitals, Delhi explained, “Eye cancers are a common term used for all cancer types in various parts of the eye. The two most diagnosed primary eye cancers are melanoma in adults and Retinoblastoma in children. Other primary eye cancers are Non-Hodgkin lymphoma, Medulloepithelioma, Hemangioma and Eyelid carcinoma. Cancer can also spread to eye from cancers of breast and lung which is known as secondary eye cancer.”


What are the causes of eye cancer?

“The exact reason for eye cancers has not yet known. Common risk factors are old age, Inherited medical Conditions like dysplastic nevus syndrome (multiple inherited melanomas), oculodermal melanocytosis or nevus of Ota (abnormal brown spots on the uvea, a pigment layering your iris), or BAP1 cancer syndrome, excessive exposure to the sun, radiation exposure and certain chemicals and other hazards at workplace,” said Dr Shankar.

What are the signs and symptoms of eye cancer?

Dr Shankar said, eye cancers generally do not show symptoms in the beginning and may go unnoticed. The most common symptom is the painless loss of vision. Other signs and symptoms are eye floaters or eye flashes; blurred vision, haloes, and shadows around images, especially of bright light; dark mole on the white part of the eye that increases in size; decrease in vision accompanied by pain; bulging of one eye or both (proptosis); lump or tumour on your eyelid or in your eye that’s increasing in size; Change in colour of the iris.

How is Eye cancer diagnosed?
What are the treatment options for it?

Ophthalmologists have the critical opportunity to diagnose it at the early stage during a regular eye examination. For eye melanoma, a diagnosis can often be made without a biopsy. Imaging tests are useful to stage the disease along with physical and eye examination. Fine needle biopsy, CT Scan, MRI, PET Scan and cytogenetics and gene expression profiling is recommended to diagnose eye cancers.

Treatment options and recommendations depend on type and stage, patient’s preferences, long term sequel of treatment and its effect on overall health. Treatment goals are directed to limit the spread of tumour with preservation of vision. Active surveillance/observation, Surgery, total eye removal, radiation therapy and Laser therapy are treatment options in eye cancers.

Prevention for families with inherited retinoblastoma

In families with the inherited form of retinoblastoma, preventing retinoblastoma may not be possible. However, genetic testing enables families to know which children have an increased risk of retinoblastoma, so eye examination can be started at an early age.  Genetic testing can be suggested but genetic counsellor must discuss the risks and benefits of genetic testing before ordering the test.

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