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Symptoms of eye cancer

By Dr Ananya Mandal, MD

Most eye cancers have a similar set of symptoms. However, some symptoms may be specific for certain types of eye cancer.

Classic symptoms of eye cancers

Classic symptoms of eye cancers include (1, 2, 3, 4) –

  • Blurring of vision – Initial blurring of vision may often be ignored or blamed on refractory errors necessitating glasses. This seemingly innocuous symptom needs to be followed up especially among those with risk factors for eye cancer by an ophthalmologist to detect eye cancers early.
  • Flashes or spots in visual fields. Patients may see lines, floating points, wiggly lines, or spots in front of their eyes. This symptom is common with a myriad of eye disorders like cataract etc. They need careful evaluation to exclude eye cancers especially among those at risk.
  • Full or partial loss of eye sight – Sometimes there may be “blinkering” – the vision around the periphery is lost. The vision is often akin to a horse with blinkers. These may be some patients who see like through a tunnel. This is called tunnel vision. Progressively complete vision is lost.
  • Pain in or around the eye. This occurs mainly due to the pressure exerted by the tumor on the eye. Pain is rare in most eye cancers. It occurs when the cancer affects adnexal structures, nerves or spreads to other parts.
  • Bulging of the eye. This may be seen in children with retinoblastoma.
  • Change in appearance of the affected eye
  • A spot over the eye or a mole over the iris may appear to have grown in size or changed in appearance.

Symptoms of Intraocular melanoma

Intraocular melanoma may often present with no symptoms.

These patients may be diagnosed on regular eye examination by an ophthalmologist.

The first sign of a melanoma may often be a complete loss of vision that is absolutely painless.

Those with dysplastic nevus syndrome or nevi or moles around the eyes need regular annual eye checkups to exclude melanoma formation and detect the disease early. (1)

Edited by , BA Hons (Cantab)

Further Reading

What is eye cancer? 
Eye Cancer Causes
Eye Cancer Diagnosis
Eye Cancer Treatments

Last Updated: May 30, 2012

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