Ocular Oncology

Ocular Oncology

What is Ocular Oncology?

It is a specialized branch in eye diseases that deals with non-cancerous and cancerous tumors of the eye. As in any other parts of the body, cancer can occur in various structures of the eyes. Tumors and cancer developing in other body parts can also spread to the eye. It can be vision as well as life threatening.

Why is there a need for awareness of eye cancer and, the specialty?

Early diagnosis and appropriate management by a specialist ocular oncologist has excellent outcome. It is extremely important to identify the right professional care as it is beyond eye care where the aim is to save life, eye and vision.

Who is an ocular oncologist?

Is a specialist who is trained in the cure of eye diseases and, further specialized and trained in treating eye cancer. An ocular oncologist takes utmost care in preserving eye and vision along with treating the cancer. The team comprises of medical/ radiation oncologist, interventional radiologist, pathologist and a geneticist.

How common is eye cancer?

When compared to other cancers like breast, lungs, stomach and, leukemia it is not as common; but, not rare. Likewise all these common cancers can also spread to the eye leading to blindness. The challenge is lack of awareness among the public and health care workers regarding the same, leading to late detection, and advanced stage of cancer by the time patient reaches the specialist.

How do we identify tumor/cancer in the eye? What are the symptoms?

  • Any lump or bump in the eyelid or skin around the eye that is non-curable with any previous medications is an alarming sign of eye cancer. It will progress in size, thickness and, a change in color can be noted.
  • Longstanding redness in the white portion of the eye can be a slow growing tumor on the surface of the eye that needs attention.
  • Blurry vision and white color of the eye pupil indicates a tumor hiding inside the eye. Some cancers inside the eye is life threatening.
  • Bulgy and displaced eyes can harbor a tumor behind the eye in the bony cavity. This can compress the nerve of the eye and cause blindness if it progresses.
Be cautious about any abnormal appearing lesion in the eye. It requires immediate attention.

Does it affect all age groups?

Yes, eye tumor/ cancer can occur in all age groups. It can be present even at birth. Most common eye cancer in children is retinoblastoma with excellent outcome if detected early. Among elders eyelid and eye surface tumors are more common.

Can eye cancer be treated completely?

It requires a trained ocular oncologist who is well versed with the protocols of treatment. If the protocols are followed strictly, it can be treated with complete cure. The outcome also depends on the stage at the time of diagnosis.

How is eye cancer treated?

It can be completely removed surgically with specific steps and precautions to prevent the tumor growing back. It can also be treated with eyedrops and injections. It may also require a combination of chemotherapy and radiotherapy as in other cancers depending on the stage. Recent advancement with targeted treatment of eye cancer is very promising. The main goal in treatment is to save life. Newer techniques helps saving eye and vision.