Eye Cancer — A Rare Possibility

Eye cancer! Did you ever think that the eye could be affected by cancer? Cancers of the eye develop from tissue just like other parts of the body.

The eye is made up of the eyeball, the orbit, and the adnexal structures. The eyeball or globe is made up of the uvea and the retina. Cancers that affects these parts are called intraocular, orbital or adnexal cancers.

Intraocular cancers are the most common eye cancers. The primary cancer starts inside the eyeball and may be melanoma or primary introcular lymphoma. Children usually develop retinoblastoma as the cancer develops in retinal cells.

Sometimes cancers spread from one part of the body to the eye and these are referred to as secondary intraocular cancers. This usually happens with lung and breast cancer when they metastasize.

Uveal melanoma forms in the eyeball and is quite rare, while generally intraocular melanomas form in the iris. This is easily detectable as they develop on a pigmented area of the iris.

They grow slowly and usually do not spread to other parts of the body so the prognosis for this kind of cancer is good.

The cause of this kind of cancer is still unknown but researchers link exposure to UV rays as a possible cause.

Most intraocular cancers are formed by either spindle cells or epithelioid cells. Spindle cells offer a better chance of recovery than do epithelioid cells as the latter can spread to other parts of the body and are deadly.

If you have any kind of eye condition that is not normal you must consult an ophthalmologist who will then guide you.

Symptoms of Eye Cancer

Eye cancer has certain symptoms such as;

  • The gradual distortion of vision or total or partial loss of sight;
  • An eye may bulge more than normal;
  • Watery eyes with blurred vision;
  • You may suffer from loss of peripheral vision;
  • and mainly, if you find a dark spot or pigment on the iris that is steadily growing larger;
  • There is bleeding in the eye.

You may not suffer much pain unless the cancer has spread to the outer regions of the eye.

Your doctor or ophthalmologist may refer you to an ocular oncology center where you may be asked to have an eye examination, an angiogram, an ultrasound or MRI tests.

A biopsy of vitreous fluid taken from your eye will be sent to the lab and checked for lymphoma cells. To determine if cancer has spread to the brain you may need to have a lumbar puncture. This means that a sample of cerebrospinal fluid is drawn from your back that is then tested.

Cryosurgery, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy are the treatments used to halt the spread of the cancer. If the eye has turned completely blind and is painful it may be necessary to undergo surgery to remove the eye.

You also need to find out if retinoblastoma runs in your family as then the risk of children getting it is higher. If this is the case then they should have regular eye examinations.

As is usually the case with all kinds of cancer, the earlier you get the cancer diagnosed the better the chances of controlling it and maybe curing it. Be assured that the doctors will do their best to save as much of your vision as possible.

They will discuss the possible treatments with you but if you are not satisfied then you can always a second opinion on your case. Your eyes are precious to you and you must do all you can to save them.

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