Eye cancer that originates in the eye is called intraocular cancer and if it spreads from another area it’s called secondary eye cancer. Most new cases of primary intraocular cancer are melanoma. Identifying eye cancer can be difficult since many if not most of the symptoms are also associated with other less serious conditions, but the main things to watch for usually include persistent vision problems and changes in eye position or appearance. Eye cancer can be a little bit unique among cancers in that victims don’t usually feel much pain.
Eye cancer that originates in the eye is called intraocular cancer and if it spreads from another area it’s called secondary eye cancer. Most new cases of primary intraocular cancer are melanoma. At times, eye cancer can develop in the tissues that surround the eyeball. It may even spread from the eyes to the different parts of the body.
Types of Eye Cancer
The most common ones are
- Eye melanoma
- Retinoblastoma (which is a childhood cancer) and
- Squamous cell carcinoma
Stages of Eye Cancer
Doctors use different systems to stage eye cancer. One of these is called TNM staging.
Symptoms of Eye Cancer:
Eye cancer doesn’t always cause obvious symptoms and may only be picked up during a routine eye test.
- Vision Problems
Blurred vision is one of the first things that many cancer patients say they noticed. When you experience blurring of your vision, it could be for a variety of reasons. Blurring can happen consistently or it can come and go, often at random intervals. There are a number of reasons for vision problems and eye cancer is only one of them. In addition, floaters or spots drifting across the field of vision and sensations of flashing light can occur without changes in a person’s clarity of vision. If it’s temporary you may ignore it or you can blame your glasses if you use them. If the blurring of your vision happens you will have to get your eyes checked. It may be a symptom of eye cancer Temporary or permanent loss of sight, either complete or in a certain area within the field of vision can be another of the early symptoms of eye cancer. This is one of the most common symptoms, so it is best to have to have your eyes checked immediately.
- Spots and Flashes:
One of the common symptoms of eye cancer is when you start seeing spots, flashes, wiggly lines or floating points. However, this symptom may be a sign of a variety of illnesses aside from eye cancer. Sometimes it means nothing, especially when infrequent. Your eyes may just be tired. This happens when you do some eye straining activities like reading for a long period. Also, too much electronic device exposure is the main cause of eye strain.
3. Change in Eye position
There can also be a noticeable physical change in the eye, including changing size in the pupil, bulges or a change in the way the eye sits or moves. Tumors usually grow on the underside of the eyeball and aren’t usually visible, but depending on how big they are they can and often alter the way the eye appears in the socket. Dark spots on the surface of the eye are another related symptom.
4. Loss of Sight:
You may start to experience partial or full loss of your sight, whether temporarily or permanently. This is a major symptom of eye cancer. You might experience the loss of peripheral vision or start experiencing tunnel vision. This happens when you see things as if you were in a tunnel. Whether you’ve lost only part of your site or all, it this is one of the scarier symptoms. It may signal a more advanced stage of cancer and would mean that you should go to the eye doctor.
Pain is one of the most common things most cancer patients experience that indicates something is wrong within the body. As a result, there may be some level of pain around or in the actual eye. This usually happens when cancer affects the nerves, adnexal structures or different parts of the eye. However, there is almost never pain associated with symptoms of eye cancer. People often feel pressure, but not usually any sort of actual pain. When it is present, the cancer has usually already spread to a large area outside of the eye itself.
6. Bulging of the Eye:
This symptom is more commonly seen in children who have retinoblastoma. Typically, only the affected eye would be bulging and not the other one, unless of course both eyes get affected.
Causes of Eye Cancer
The exact cause of most eye cancers is not known. But scientists have found that the disease is linked with some other conditions. Eye melanoma occurs when the pigment-producing cells in the eyes divide and multiply too rapidly.
- Cancers can be caused by DNA changes that turn on ontogenesis or turn off tumor suppressor genes. Most DNA Changes linked to cancer are acquired during a person’s life rather than inherited before birth.
- White or pale skin – eye melanoma mostly affects white people and is more common in those with fair skin.
- Overexposure to sunlight – this increases your risk of skin cancer, and may also be a risk factor for eye melanoma.
- Lighter Eye Color.
Diagnosis and Treatment
It’s likely you’ll have a number of different tests at the centre, including:
- Eye Examination
- Ultrasound scan
- a fluorescein angiogram
If you have been diagnosed with an eye cancer, your cancer care team will discuss your treatment options with you. Treatment for melanoma of the eye depends on the size and location of the tumour. Your care team will explain each treatment option in detail, including the benefits and any potential complications.
- Laser therapy
- Removal of the eye (nucleation) – this may be necessary if the tumor is large or you’ve lost your vision.
Once again, the choice of treatment is a decision that should be made by both you and your doctor. Radiation and surgery appear to be about equally effective.