Cancer Support Group

Tuesday, Apr 20th

Last update:06:42:40 AM GMT

Eye Cancer FAQs

Can the laser be used to treat an eye melanoma?
Most studies have shown that the laser treatment just burns the surface of the melanoma. This can leave live cancer cells under the tumor–s laser scarred surface and in the wall of the eye. It may be just a matter of time before the cancer will grow again. If the cancer is not killed or removed, there is a chance that it might spread to the rest of your body.

Can eye cancer be prevented?
There is currently no known way to prevent cancers of the eye.

Because of the clear association between sunlight and melanomas of the skin, the doctors recommends limiting exposure to intense sunlight, covering up with protective hats and clothing, and using sunscreen. They also recommend wearing UV–protected sunglasses. This may help reduce the risk of developing cancers of the skin around the eyes.

How is eye cancer diagnosed?
Diagnosis of Melanoma of the Eye

Following are the symptoms
  • Decreased ability to see
  • Floaters or flashes of light
  • Visual field loss
  • Growing dark spot on the iris
  • Change in position of the eyeball
  • Bulging of the eye
  • Change in the way the eye moves within the socket
What are the risk factors for eye cancer?
Risk Factors for Primary Intraocular Melanoma
Coloration: People with blue eyes are somewhat more likely to develop melanoma of the eye than are people with brown eyes.

Inherited melanoma: A condition called dysplastic nevus syndrome, which leads to abnormal moles of the skin and increased risk of skin melanoma, may also increase the risk for developing melanoma of the eye.

Sun exposure: Although excessive exposure to sunlight has been proposed as a possible risk factor for melanoma of the eye, it has never been proven.

Welding: There is also some evidence, which is not conclusive, that long–term exposure to welding equipment is another risk factor for ocular melanoma.

Risk factors for Primary Intraocular Lymphoma
The only known risk factor for primary lymphoma of the eye is having a weakened immune system. The acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) is a common cause of immune system problems.

Will I be blind or visually impaired from my eye cancer?
Most people who have an eye cancer do not become blind or significantly visually impaired. Our visual function usually is described in terms of visual acuity and visual fields in both eyes.

Visual acuity is expressed as a fraction; the top number refers to the distance you are from the eye chart (usually 20 feet). The bottom number indicates the distance at which a person with normal eyesight could read the line.

Visual fields refers to the full extent of the area visible to an eye that is looking straight ahead. A normal visual field is 170 degrees.

Will I be able to lead a normal life with only one eye?
It will take some time to adjust to using one eye, but almost everyone learns to compensate during the first year after surgery. If the vision in your remaining eye is good, you will still be able to drive, read, play sports, and perform all your usual daily activities.

How soon after enucleation surgery can I return to normal activity?
Check with your doctor but usually you should not lift, strain, or rub your eye for at least 2 weeks after surgery. The orbit should heal quickly and you should be able to return to school or work within 2 to 4 weeks after surgery.

How often will I need to see my eye doctor after surgery?
You will need to be followed closely in case of a recurrence or metastasis from this primary cancer. Most physicians recommend that patients be seen at least every four to six months by an ocular oncologist (eye surgeon). These examinations may include photography and ultrasound examinations.

What will I look like after my eye is removed?
Keep in mind that your eyeball helps to keep the eyelid up. Therefore, when the eye is removed the eyelid simply stays shut as if you are winking. This should not cause you any discomfort, although you may be self–conscious about it and may want to wear sunglasses until you get your prothesis. The eyelid may be swollen for a few days.

Initially if you open your eyelid, you will see the moist, pink socket lined with conjunctiva. It will look like the inside of your mouth. If there is a conformer (shell) in place, you will see the clear plastic with a hole in the center. The shell is only there temporarily until the socket heals and an artificial eye can be fitted.

What will my prosthesis look like?
An ocular prosthesis is an artificial eye that is made and fitted by a specialist in artificial eyes (an Ocularist). At first, you will be fitted with a temporary prosthesis (that looks similar to, but not exactly like, your remaining eye) while your prosthetic eye is being custom–made. The prosthesis looks somewhat like a giant contact lens. It will match the shade of the sclera (white part of the eye), the iris color, veins, and the shape of your eyes as much as possible.

What’s involved in taking care of a prosthesis?
In most cases, the prosthesis can be left in place for months at a time. Artificial eyes can be cleaned with mild soap and water, but should be professionally cleaned and polished by the Ocularist about every 4 to 6 months and should be replaced every 3 to 5 years.


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