Cancer is one of America’s most feared diseases, and it is also one of the most prevalent. Not only is cancer difficult to treat, but its side effects can be equally challenging to manage, exacerbating the problems caused by cancer. The eyes are one part of the body that is impacted by both cancer and its treatment. However, by being aware of the risks and how to manage them, you can avoid visual loss.
Your Eyes and Cancer
The type of cancer with which you are diagnosed dictates how your eyes may be impacted. Understanding the risks associated with your specific kind of cancer to your eyes might help you avoid vision problems and loss. Additionally, it might assist you in identifying pertinent issues to address with your doctor and eye health professional.
Individuals who have had skin cancer are in danger of having their eyelids affected. Individuals diagnosed with skin cancer are more likely to develop ocular melanoma, a severe skin cancer that affects the eyes and results in vision loss. Skin cancer can also spread to the cornea and conjunctiva, as evidenced by red, pigmented, or white lesions on the eye’s surface. A pigmented patch can identify melanoma of the eye on the eyelid.
Along with cancer or cancer symptoms manifesting on the eyelid, other types of cancer can develop on the eyes. Although eye cancer is often difficult to detect due to its lack of discomfort, it can substantially impair vision.
Cancer can metastasize or spread to other parts of the body. Individuals with lymphoma may find that cancer has spread to their eyes. Generally, ocular lymphoma manifests itself inside the vitreous, the transparent jelly-like substance between the lens and the retina. Chronic vitreous inflammation or thick eye floaters in the field of vision are indicators of lymphoma spreading to the eyes.
Apart from the consequences of a spread to the eyes, untreated ocular lymphoma can move to the brain. A routine eye check can detect these signs and help prevent cancer from spreading to the brain. If ocular lymphoma symptoms are discovered, your doctor will do an MRI to rule out any brain involvement.
Breast, Lung, and Colon Cancer
Cancers of the breast, lungs, and colon, like lymphoma, can metastasize to the eyes. Indeed, these three types of cancer are the most often seen ones that spread to the eyes. And one of the most frightening aspects of their capacity to do so is that they can spread even while the disease is in remission.
It is crucial to monitor visual abnormalities in patients with lung, breast, or colon cancer. Additionally, routine eye examinations by an expert ophthalmologist can aid in detecting visual abnormalities and eye symptoms before cancer progresses to an advanced stage. These malignancies often appear as tumors inside the eye, impairing vision and putting the afflicted eye at danger of total vision loss.
Leukemia also can affect the eyes and typically manifests as bleeding or damage to the retina’s blood vessels. A tumor behind the eye may be discovered in some circumstances, impairing vision. As with other types of cancer, leukemia patients are urged to monitor their eyesight closely and have routine, comprehensive eye examinations.
The Effects of Cancer Treatment on the Eyes
Regrettably, eye cancer and metastases of other types of cancer are not the only concerns. Along with the visual issues caused by cancer, some cancer therapies can also affect the eyes.
Chemotherapy is the principal treatment method for cancer, and it is well-known to harm the eyes. The two most often seen adverse effects of cancer therapy are the progression of pre-existing cataracts and chronic dry eye. A reduction in vision may also be caused by or be the outcome of other dry eye and cataract problems.
Patients undergoing chemotherapy are urged to seek the aid of an eye health expert to monitor their eye health and address any visual abnormalities, eye discomfort, or dry eye symptoms quickly.
Radiation, another frequently used kind of cancer therapy, is likewise well-known for its ocular side effects. Radiation treatments performed close to the eyes may cause inflammation of the skin, cornea, and conjunctiva. Additionally, bleeding from the retina is possible. Because bleeding is not only detrimental to vision but may also be an indication of a more severe condition, patients should immediately notify their primary care physician of any issues.
Eye cancer and its consequences are a severe problem. While there is no 100% assurance against cancer, there are several preventative actions you may take to safeguard your health and vision.
The frequent use of antioxidants is one of the most widely suggested cancer prevention strategies. Antioxidants both prevent and heal cell damage. Because malignancies begin as abnormal cells that divide and spread, frequent use of antioxidant-rich supplements and foods can aid your body in fighting cell damage and irregular cell division. Additionally, regular vitamin and mineral supplementation benefits both eye and general health by aiding the body and its immune system in fighting cancer and cancer-causing chemicals.
Another critical preventative step is the use of protective gear. This includes sunscreen to protect the skin, hats to shield the face from the sun and shade the eyes, and eyewear that is 100 percent UV protected. These precautions are critical for everyone, but they are particularly critical for those with light-colored eyes and a pale complexion.
Individuals who have eye cancer may exhibit the following symptoms or indications. Occasionally, individuals with eye cancer will exhibit none of these symptoms. Alternatively, similar symptoms may be caused by a non-cancerous medical issue.
- Having difficulty seeing
- Loss of a portion of one’s field of vision
- Observing light flashes
- Observation of irregularities, squiggly lines, or floating things (floaters)
- Being born with a black patch on the iris. In contrast to choroidal and ciliary body melanoma, iris melanoma can occasionally be visible as dark patches on the eye.
If you are worried about any of the symptoms or indications listed above, please consult your physician.