Cancer is a scary word. But when you know all the facts, knowledge and understanding can reduce the fear. Find out everything you need to know about cancer and its effects...

Eye Cancer

Eye cancer is characterized by an abnormal growth of damaged cells in the eye or in the area surrounding it. It may be classified as an intraocular cancer if the tumours are located within the eye such as non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, ocular melanoma and retinoblastoma, and extraocular cancer if the tumours are located outside the eye such as basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and optic nerve tumours.. In the United Kingdom, eye cancer is considered a rare type of cancer. There are about 450 people who are diagnosed with the disease every year.

Symptoms of Eye Cancer

The symptoms of eye cancer will depend on where the tumours are located. Intraocular cancers do not usually have symptoms but can be identified in periodic eye tests.  It is then essential to have eye examinations every year or two in order for you to diagnose intraocular cancers at its early stage.  Other eye cancer symptoms include loss of vision, appearance of flashing lights or spots, dark spot in the iris, visible lump on the eyelid, bleeding or crusting around the eyes, pain, and watery eyes.

Causes of Eye Cancer

At the moment, the experts in the field do not have a full understanding as to the main cause of developing eye cancer.  However, they have pinpointed some factors that may increase the risk of developing the disease such as:

  • Light colored eyes – blue, grey or green
  • Presence of abnormal brown spots in the eye
  • Appearance of abnormally shaped moles
  • Too much sun exposure
  • Weak immune system
  • Inherited genes of eye cancer

Diagnosis of Eye Cancer

An ophthalmologist is the best person to diagnose a patient with eye cancer.  These tests help the doctor identify the disease:

  • The doctor will conduct a routine eye examination by shining light directly to the eye and examine the eye using special instruments.

  • By using fluorescein angiography, the blood vessels that leads to the eyes can be examined for abnormalities. A dye is injected into the arm and travels through the bloodstream and put more emphasis in the blood vessels of the eyes.

  • An ultrasound may also be conducted over closed eyelids using a sensor to generate an image of the eye and look for abnormalities such as tumours.

  • CT or MRI scans are used to further look at the muscles and tissues surrounding the eye for unusual growths and developments.

  • A biopsy may also be done by taking a sample of the fluid in the eye and be examined for damaged cells which may have developed into tumours.

Treatment of Eye Cancer

Patients who have been diagnosed with eye cancer may opt to undergo various treatments such as surgery to remove the tumour.  They may also opt to go the non surgical route by undergoing radiotherapy and chemotherapy.  However, the success rate of the treatments for eye cancer will only be high depending on the size and severity of the eye cancer.  It is still best if the eye cancer is detected early so that it can be treated as soon as possible.