Ocular oncology is the study of cancer that starts in or affects the eye. These cancers can be either superficial or invasive, and they are often treated with surgery if caught early enough. However, for more advanced cases where all tumors cannot be removed by surgery alone, radiation therapy may also be used to shrink cancer before it is surgically removed. The most common types of ocular oncology include Retinoblastoma (cancer in a child’s retina), Choroidal melanomas (cancer in a person’s choroid), and Optic nerve gliomas (brain tumors).
1. The First Step in Fighting Cancer That Starts In or Affects the Eye Is Early Detection
Early detection of ocular oncology cancers allows for an easier time removing at least part of the tumor and giving a better prognosis. If cancer has advanced, the chances are poor that treatment will be able to rid the patient entirely of it, and there is also a high chance that it will come back.
2. Recognizing the Signs of Ocular Oncology Cancers Is Key to Catching Them Early
Common early warning signs of ocular oncology include eye pain, blurred vision, persistent redness in the white part of the eye (sclera), pinkish-red collection of blood (hematoma) under the conjunctiva, and red or pink-streaked drainage from an eye.
If you experience any of these symptoms, don’t hesitate to contact your doctor right away.
3. Ocular Oncology Can Affect both Children and Adults
Ocular oncology cancers affect people of all ages; however, they are more commonly found in people over 40. Children who experience ocular oncology can get treatment at specialized pediatric cancer centers.
4. Retinoblastoma Is an Ocular Oncology Cancer That Originates In the Retina
Retinoblastoma affects both children and dogs. In children, cancer affects the retina. It is rare cancer that occurs in only one child out of every 20,000 births. However, dogs can be affected by a closely related type of retinoblastoma known as canine retinoblastoma.
5. Uveal Melanomas Are another Form of Ocular Oncology Cancer
Uveal melanoma is a cancer that starts in the uvea or middle layer of the eye. Cancer develops from cells called retinal pigment epithelium cells, which are part of the retina. Uveal melanomas are rare, with only about 60 new cases being diagnosed each year in the US.
6. Intraocular Lymphomas Are a Form of Ocular Oncology Cancer That Affects the Uvea
Intraocular lymphoma is a rare type of cancer that starts in a person’s immune system cells called lymphocytes, responsible for fighting off infections and foreign substances. These cancers develop from lymphocytes within the uveal tract, which is the middle layer of the eye.
7. Optic Nerve Gliomas are a Type of Ocular Oncology Cancer That Originates in Brain Tissue
Optic nerve glioma is a sporadic type of childhood cancer that originates in a person’s optic nerves or, in sporadic cases, their brain tissue. These cancers are typically low-grade gliomas that do not spread to other parts of the body.
8. Tumors that Start In or Affect the Eye Are Often Treated with Surgical Removal
Treatment for ocular oncology often includes surgery to remove a tumor. Surgery involves making an incision in the eye and removing a small amount of tissue from the body. The procedure may be done under local anesthesia so your eyes will remain open. The tissue to be removed will be tested for cancer cells. If the tumor is small enough to remove completely, it will be eliminated.
Ocular oncology is a rare type of cancer that affects the eye and is more common in adults than children. Symptoms can develop gradually or suddenly and include redness, pain, blurred vision, and persistent redness in the white part of the eye (sclera). Ocular oncology symptoms can indicate other serious problems as well, such as a detached retina.