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Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, and Treatment

Eye cancer is a condition when the cells in the eye organ grow rapidly and uncontrollably. Check out an explanation of the symptoms, causes, and how to treat it in the following review.

Eye Cancer: Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, and Treatment

What is Eye Cancer?

Just like other types of cancer, eye cancer occurs when cells and tissues in it mutate and turn to attack normal cells

Although rare, this condition can attacks the three main parts of the eye, namely the eyeball, the tissue surrounding the eyeball (orbita), and the eye accessories (covering the eyebrows, eyelids, and tear glands).

The growth of cancer cells is divided into 3 parts, including:

1. Eyeball

The first part of the eye that has the potential to become a ‘nest’ for cancer cells is the eyeball (globe). The eyeball consists of 3 (three) layers:

  • Sclera is the outermost layer of the eyeball which is white with a hard texture. The sclera at the front of the eye is known as the cornea.
  • Uvea is the middle layer of the eyeball in which there is an iris as a color producer. In addition, the uvea also contains the choroid, eye lens regulator (ciliary), and pigment-producing cells (melanocytes).
  • retina is the innermost part of the eye. In the retina, there are nerve cells whose function is to control the eye’s response to light

2. Orbits

Apart from the eyeball, other parts of the eye that are also at risk of cancer cells growing are the orbits. The orbit is the part of the eye in which there are networks. These networks have various functions, one of which regulates the movement of the eyeball.

3. Adnexals

Adnexal or eye accessories consist of a number of elements supporting the function of the eye, namely:

  • Eyelid.
  • Eyebrow.
  • Eyelashes.
  • Conjunctiva.
  • Tear glands.

Apart from the eye, this condition can also be caused by cancer that occurs in other organs of the body (metastasis). This type of cancer is known as secondary cancer. However, cancer of the eye is classified as a rare type of cancer.

Symptoms of Eye Cancer

This cancer at first often does not cause specific symptoms. Symptoms generally only begin to appear after entering an advanced stage.

The following are signs of eye cancer that you should watch out for, including:

  • Visual disturbances (blurred or complete loss of vision).
  • Dark spots appear in the sclera area.
  • The radius of view is reduced.
  • Change in pupil size.
  • Eyes look more prominent.
  • Change in eyeball position.
  • Eye movement abnormalities.
  • Pain in the eyes.

When is the Right Time to See a Doctor?

Some of the symptoms of eye cancer are non-specific and resemble other eye diseases. Immediately visit a doctor if you experience the symptoms above so that further medical examination and treatment can be carried out, before the condition gets worse.

Also Read: 7 Ways to Prevent Minus Eyes when Playing Gadgets

Causes of Eye Cancer

This condition is caused by cell mutations in the organ of vision. Unfortunately, it is not known exactly what causes these cells to mutate and turn to attack the surrounding tissues and organs.

However, scientists suspect that this cancer is related to a number of risk factors, as described by the following American Cancer Society (ACS):

  • Eye color. People who have light eye color have a great risk of developing melanoma in the future.
  • Age. Although it can attack anyone, people who are elderly have a greater risk.
  • Gender. This cancer is more likely to be suffered by men than women
  • Hereditary syndrome. Hereditary syndromes such as dysplastic nevus syndrome and oculodermal melanocytosis also make sufferers susceptible to developing eye cancer in the future.
  • Mole. Someone who has a mole in the eye area is said to be at risk of developing cancer in the future, especially uveal melanoma.

Other conditions that are also associated with cancer of the eye organs are as follows:

  • Exposure to sunlight and chemicals.
  • Welding factory workers.
  • Melanoma disease of the skin.

However, this claim does not yet have strong scientific evidence so that its truth is still in doubt.

Diagnosis of Eye Cancer

In order to determine whether the patient has cancer in his eyes or not, the doctor will carry out a series of examination procedures which include:

1. Anamnesis

Anamnesis is the stage where the doctor will ask a number of questions to the patient regarding the complaints they are experiencing, such as:

  • How long has this condition lasted?
  • What symptoms are felt?
  • Do you have a history of other diseases before?
  • Are there any family members with a history of the same disease?

2. Physical Examination

Next, the doctor will examine the patient’s eye condition to further assess whether there are abnormalities in the eye. The benchmarks for this assessment include:

  • Eyeball movement.
  • The appearance of black spots on the eyes.
  • The ability of the eye to see.
  • Blood vessels in the eye.
  • eye color (vitreous humour).

3. Supporting Examination

Diagnosis of this cancer is also usually accompanied by supporting examinations such as:

  • Biopsy.
  • X-rays.
  • CT scans.
  • Lumbar puncture.

Types of Eye Cancer

Eye cancer consists of several types seen from the location where cancer cells grow and develop. Broadly speaking, this cancer is divided into 2 categories:

  • Primary intraocular cancernamely cancer cells arise from inside the eye.
  • secondary intraocular cancer, namely cancer cells originating from other organs and then spread to the eye.

The following are types of eye cancer things you need to watch out for, including:

1. Intraocular Melanoma

Intraocular melanoma is the most common cancer. These cancer cells begin to grow and develop in the eyeball. The type of cell that experienced the mutation in this case was the melanocyte, which is the cell responsible for producing pigment.

Intraocular melanoma is more common in the uvea (uveal melanoma) than on the conjunctiva (conjunctival melanoma).

Melanoma occurs in the center of the eyeball which is called the uvea. The uvea of ​​the eye consists of 3 elements namely the iris, choroid and ciliary.

Of the three elements, this one cancer cell grows more in the choroid and ciliary. Meanwhile, melanoma that occurs on the iris of the eye is the subtype of melanoma that is most easily detected.

In this type of melanoma, cancer cells grow and develop in the outermost part of the structure of the eyeball, namely the sclera.

Compared with uveal melanoma, this condition is less common. However, these cancers tend to be more aggressive in their distribution; can spread through the blood and lymph nodes to other organs such as the liver, brain and lungs.

Retinoblastoma is a cancer that attacks the retina. This type of cancer is often experienced by children. This disease can attack one or both eyeballs. Generally, retinoblastoma can be detected from the age of 1 year.

If the cancer cells have spread to the lymph nodes in the eye, there is what is called lymphoma. However, lymphoma that attacks the lymph nodes in the eye includes lymphoma non-Hodgkin.

2. Orbital and Adnexal Cancer

Eye cancer can also develop in the orbit, which is the part that contains tissues. Meanwhile cancer adnexals attack the elements of the eye parts such as tear glands and lids.

Also Read: 11 Ways to Overcome Tired and Sore Eyes Due to Computers

Treatment of Eye Cancer

There are many methods that can be used to treat this condition, but treatment depends on the type, size, location of the cancer that occurs, and its severity.

Some of the commonly used cancer treatment methods include:

1. Operation

The surgery performed depends on the type, size, and severity. Several types of operations, namely:

  • Iridectomy.
  • Irido trabeculectomy.
  • Iridocyclectomy.
  • Transcleral resection.
  • Enucleation.
  • exenteration orbitals.

2. Radiotherapy

Radiotherapy is a healing method that is carried out by exposing X-rays to eye tissue that is attacked by cancer cells. Common types of radiotherapy are:

  • Brachytherapy.
  • External radiotherapy.

One positive thing from applying this method is that the risk of side effects in the form of damage to the eyeball can be minimized.

3. Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy is a method of healing by giving special medicines to patients.

These drugs will later be given by injection directly into the eyeball, through a vein (IV), or it can only be in the form of pills that are taken orally.

Chemotherapy to treat cancer is usually applied when cancer cells have already spread to other tissues or organs of the body.

4. Laser therapy

This therapy is performed if the patient’s condition does not allow for surgery or radiotherapy. There are two Common types of laser therapy:

  • Transpupillary thermotherapy.
  • Laser photocoagulation.

5. Targeted Therapy

In cases where cancer can no longer be cured with chemotherapy, the doctor may advise the patient to undergo this one treatment procedure, namely taking special drugs.

Apart from drugs, doctors will also usually provide immune therapy to patients which aims to strengthen the performance of the immune system.

7. Drugs

Some immunotherapy drugs can be a treatment option, especially if chemotherapy drugs are not effective for the type of cancer being treated. Immunotherapy drugs that are generally given include nivolumab, pembrolizumab, and ipilimumab.

Also Read: 12 Vitamins for Eyes to Stay Healthy

Eye Cancer Complications

If not treated immediately, this condition can lead to complications of other eye diseases. Complications that can occur include:

  • Increased pressure inside the eye (glaucoma). Signs and symptoms are sore eyes, red, and accompanied by blurred vision.
  • Loss of sight. Severe conditions can result in loss of vision in the eye affected by cancer.
  • Spread of cancer to other parts. This disease can spread beyond the eyes to distant areas of the body including the liver, lungs and bones.

Prevention of Eye Cancer

American Cancer Society recommend a number of things as preventive measures or at least to minimize the risk of this condition, including:

  • Avoid exposure to direct sunlight to the eyes.
  • Use eye protection such as glasses and hats when doing outdoor activities.
  • Using sunscreen cream on the face area when in a hot place
  • Screening children who have a family history of retinoblastoma.
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  5. Anonymous. Risk Factors of Eye Cancer. (Accessed 8 February 2023)
  6. Anonymous. Signs and Symptoms of Eye Cancer. . (Accessed 8 February 2023)
  7. Anonymous. Surgery for Eye Cancer. (Accessed 8 February 2023)
  8. Anonymous. Targeted Drugs for Eye Cancer. (Accessed 8 February 2023)
  9. Anonymous. What is Eye Cancer?. (Accessed 8 February 2023)

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