What is eye cancer?


Know the basics

What is eye cancer?

Cancer which occurs in the tissues of the eye are called eye cancer. Eye cancer can be maligned from other body parts such as the lung or breasts. There are different types of cancer that often cause eye cancer:

  • Melanoma, this is the most common type;
  • Squamous cell carcinoma;
  • Lymphoma;
  • Retinoblastoma, a cancer mostly happens during childhood.

How common is eye cancer?

Eye cancer is rarely common. It affects females and males at the same number. However, some types like melanoma and squamous cell carcinoma are more common in men. It can be managed by reducing your risk factors. Please discuss with your doctor for further information.

Know the symptoms

What are the symptoms of eye cancer?

The common symptoms of eye cancer are:

  • Loss a part of whole vision;
  • Blurring vision;
  • Seeing the flashes of light, spots, curvy lines, or shadows;
  • A dark spot in the eye;
  • Swollen eye or eyelid.

There may be some symptoms not listed above. If you have any concerns about a symptom, please consult your doctor.

When should I see my doctor?

If you have any signs or symptoms listed above or have any questions, please consult with your doctor. Everyone’s body acts differently. It is always best to discuss with your doctor what is best for your situation.

Know the causes

What causes eye cancer?

The exact causes of eye cancer are unknown, scientists are still studying how DNA changes inside eye cells can make the cells become cancerous. However, it is proven that eye cancer could be linked with other born characteristics or health conditions, including:

  • Lighter eye color such as green, blue or gray: lighter eyes have less pigment to protect them from harmful ultraviolet rays;
  • White skin are more sensitive to sunlight and can lead to other types of cancer that spread to the eyes;
  • Cancerous moles;
  • Sun exposure;
  • Inherit condition: the changes of DNA could be a cause leading to eye cancer.

Know the risk factors

What increases my risk for eye cancer?

There are many risk factors for eye cancer, such as:

  • Age: eye cancer can happen to anyone, but the risk of eye cancer likely increases as we get older. The average age of people with eye cancer is 55. It rarely occurs in children.
  • Gender: the number of men with eye cancer is slightly higher than women.
  • Race: white people are more at the risk of eye cancer than blacks or Asians.
  • Inherit factors: although this is quite rare, melanoma can be passed through members of family.
  • Other health conditions: People with certain conditions with the eye such as oculodermal melanocytosis (eye pigmentation), Nevi (spots or moles in the eye), or Dysplastic nevus syndrome are more at the risks of getting eye cancer.
  • Certain conditions: people with many abnormal moles on the skin or spots like moles in the eye are at high risk of melanoma of the eye.
  • Other factors such as sun exposure or chemicals can put you at the risk of melanoma.

Understand the diagnosis & treatment

The information provided is not a substitute for any medical advice. ALWAYS consult with your doctor for more information.

How is eye cancer diagnosed?

There are some methods that doctors can diagnose your symptom:

  • Your doctor will first examine your medical condition, family history and symptoms.
  • Eye examination: they will use light from a device called ophthalmoscope to test for melanoma.
  • Ultrasound: this procedure is performed by using sound waves to collect images of the eye.
  • Fluorescein angiography: doctors will use a special camera to take pictures inside your blood vessels in the eye to check for tumors.
  • Biopsy: this test will remove cells in the tumor with a needle under a microscope.
  • Other tests: To examine how your liver and kidneys are working, you are asked to have blood tests. Sometimes, the doctor may recommend you an ultrasound scan of the liver to check for any cancer spread.

How is eye cancer treated?

Treatments for eye cancer depend on the size and the site of tumor. The common treatments are:

  • Chemotherapy (chemo): it is more useful to apply chemo in cases that cancers have spread, the drugs can be delivered by injecting into a certain part of body or into a vein, taken by mouth.
  • Brachytherapy: your doctor will insert tiny plates lined with radioactive material to remove cancer cells.
  • External radiotherapy: a specific device using radiation beams will be used to kill the tumor cells.
  • Laser therapy: the therapy can be used to destroy body tissues, which is sometimes used to treat intraocular melanoma more than intraocular lymphoma.
  • Surgery: it is common in the intraocular melanoma treatment. The ophthalmologist will separate parts or all of the affected eye depending on how big, the location and spread of the tumor. Here are surgical options:
    • Iridectomy: removal of part of the iris.
    • Irido trabeculectomy: removal of part of the iris, plus a small piece of the outer part of eyeball.
  • Iridocyclectomy: removal of part of the iris and ciliary body.
    • Sclerouvectomy/endoresection: removal the choroidal tumor while keeping the eye.
    • Enucleation: this will remove the eye if the tumor is too big and you lost vision. You may get a new artificial eye to replace for the old one.

Lifestyle changes & home remedies

What are some lifestyle changes or home remedies that can help me manage eye cancer?

The following lifestyles and home remedies might help you cope with eye cancer:

  • Avoid direct sun exposure;
  • Understand your diagnosis and available treatments to your condition;
  • Join a supporting group or a care-giver to share and help each other to get through the difficulties in physical as well as emotional sides.
  • Stay healthy: eat better, get more exercise, cut down on alcohol and tobacco.

If you have any questions, please consult with your doctor to better understand the best solution for you.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Review Date: May 30, 2016 | Last Modified: January 4, 2017

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