An abnormal growth of cells that starts invading the normal cells around it is called Cancer. When these abnormal tumor cells are present in the eyes, they lead to eye cancer. These are malignant tumours. Cancer cells can also cause benign tumors sometimes grow large enough to cause problems, but they do not grow into nearby tissues or spread to distant parts of the body.
Symptoms for eye cancer may not appear until it’s too late. However, some of the common signs and symptoms are as follows:
- Blurry vision or sudden loss of vision
- Floaters (spots or squiggles drifting in the field of vision) or flashes of light
- Losing part of your field of sight
- A growing dark spot on the colored part of the eye (iris)
- Change in the size or shape of the pupil
- Change in position of the eyeball within its socket
- Bulging of the eye
- Change in the way the eye moves within the socket
Pain is rare unless the tumor has grown extensively outside the eye.
However, some of these may be caused due to less serious ailments as well. Do go to the doctor if you have any of the symptoms.
Some of the causes and risk-factors for eye cancer include:
- Race/ethnicity : More common in caucasians
- Eye color: Melanoma more like in light-coloured eyes
- Certain inherited conditions : People with dysplastic nevus syndrome
- Weakened immune system.
Most eye cancers can be prevented by decreasing a person’s exposure to the risk factors listed under the “Causes” section.
Cancer has different stages, each depicted by a Roman numeral from 1 to 4 (I, II, III and IV). Stage I is the first stage where the tumor is still small while at Stage IV, the patient’s condition is said to be critical because the tumor has spread to other organs of the body. Hence, a cancer’s stage refers to the tumor’s size and extent of spread. This is the simplest form of staging.
In eye cancer, the stage depends on whether it is confined to eyes (localized cancer, Stage I) or whether it has spread to other organs (metastatic cancer).
The stage decides the kind of treatment you need to get. The greater the stage number, the more complex the treatment.
Needless to say, if the cancer is detected while it is still in Stage I, survival rate is higher. The rate decreases progressively with the increase in stage. Stage III is considered critical, while stage IV is, more often than not, fatal.
Given the rarity of the cancer, there are no routine tests to detect it early. However, those with a weakened immune system and/or dysplastic nevus syndrome should go for regular checkups.
There are different treatments for different stages.
- Radiation therapy
- Laser therapy
- Targeted therapy
A combination of these treatments may also be used at times.
If you have any of the symptoms, please do visit the doctor.
If you feel any of the symptoms mentioned in the Symptoms section , you should probably visit a doctor.