Things to know
- Eye cancer is an umbrella term used for various types of cancers affecting the eyes.
- The prevalence of eye cancer in India is low compared to worldwide incidence.
- The most common type of eye cancer is melanoma.
- Eye cancer symptoms include blurred vision, patches, spots or lines in vision, bulging of an eye, black spot on white of eye and lump of eye or eyelids.
About eye cancer
Eye cancer occurs when healthy cells in and around the eye begin to divide and multiply abnormally leading to the formation of a tumour. Eye cancer can develop at any portion of the eye including the eyeball, the orbit (tissues surrounding the eyeball) and the adnexal (supporting structures such as the eyelids).
There are different types of eye cancers depending on the part of the eye affected.
The cancers that start in the eye are called intraocular cancers. Intraocular cancers are further divided into two types – primary and secondary.
Common primary intraocular cancers are Melanoma, Non-Hodgkin lymphoma, Retinoblastoma and Medulloepithelioma.
Secondary intraocular cancers are the cancers that start somewhere else in the body and spread to the eye. For instance, lung and breast cancers can cause secondary intraocular eye cancer.
Eye cancer symptoms
Eye cancer symptoms vary from person to person. The signs and symptoms are dependent on the type, location and stage of cancer.
Common eye cancer symptoms include:
- Disturbances in vision such as spots, shadows, lines or flashes of light
- Bulging of one eye
- Blurry vision
- Presence of a progressive dark patch in the eye leading to partial loss of vision
- Black spot on white of eye
- Presence of a lump on the eyelid that’s increasing in size
- Pain in or around the eye
- Change in size or shape of the pupil
- Change in eye movement within the socket
The above-given eye cancer symptoms can also be caused by other conditions affecting the eye. Sometimes, these symptoms are also not detected in a routine eye test and hence expert clinical intervention is required at an early stage.
What are the causes of eye cancer?
The exact cause of eye cancer is not yet known. Researchers believe that DNA changes in the cells in and around eyes lead to the division of healthy cells at an abnormal rate and speed.
While eye cancer can affect any individual, some people are at a greater risk than others. Common risk factors that lead to the development of eye cancer include:
- Blue, green or grey (lighter) eye colour
- White or pale skin
- Unusual moles on the skin
- Exposure to UV rays
- Overexposure to sunlight
- Advanced age
- History of conditions affecting the eyes
- Family history of eye cancer
Diagnosing eye cancer
Eye cancer symptoms may not be obvious during the initial stages. Your healthcare provider will perform a range of tests and exams to understand your stage and type of cancer in order to provide timely and accurate treatment.
Common tests done to diagnose eye cancer include:
- Physical exam
- Fine needle biopsy
- Gene expression profiling
- Imaging tests such as CT scan
Eye cancer treatment
Eye cancer treatment protocols are dependent on various factors such as:
- Your age
- Overall health
- Size and location of tumour
- Stage of cancer
- Severity of symptoms
Based on the above, your multidisciplinary team determines the type of treatment protocol that is best suited for you. Usually, more than one treatment method is utilised for best possible outcomes.
Common eye cancer treatment protocols include:
- Active surveillance
- Surgical removal of the tumour, part of or whole eye
- Radiation therapy
- Laser therapy
Eye cancer prevention
It may not be possible to entirely prevent eye cancer. However, you can assess your individual risk and take precautionary measures to reduce your chances of developing the disease.
Eye cancer prevention tips include:
- Understanding your risk
- Routine screening
- Wearing sunglasses when outside
- Reducing your exposure to UV rays
Eye cancer starts when healthy cells in and around the eye begin to multiply abnormally causing the formation of a mass called tumour.
An eye tumour can cause pain and discomfort in the eye. You may experience loss of partial or complete vision, disturbances in your vision and bulging due to the tumour.
Eye cancer most commonly develops in the eyeballs.
No, there is no link between your risk of developing eye cancer and cell phone usage.