What is ocular oncology?

Ocular oncology involves the diagnosis and treatment of eye cancer. Eye cancer can affect the eye or surrounding regions, such as the orbit and eyelids.

Types of eye cancers include the following:

  • Eye melanoma
    is a type of eye cancer affecting the cells that create the pigment responsible for giving the eyes their colour. Usually, melanoma is associated with skin cancer, but cancer can also affect the eyes. Eye melanoma will likely occur when growths (nevi/moles) develop on the eye. Additionally, those with lighter-coloured eyes are more at risk of developing eye melanoma.
  • Squamous cell carcinoma of the eye (conjunctiva)
    is a type of cancer that targets the conjunctiva but can spread in and around the eye. Usually, this type of cancer is considered slow-developing and remains confined to certain areas. However, there is still a possibility that cancer can spread to other parts of the body. Typical signs include red eye(s), a feeling as if something is trapped in the eye, and a painless, colourless growth in the eye.
  • Lymphoma
    arises from the immune system cells referred to as lymphocytes. These types of cells can be traced in the bone marrow, spleen, thymus and other bodily regions. Primary intraocular lymphoma, although rare, appears inside the eye.
  • Retinoblastoma
    is a malignant childhood eye cancer in which a mutation occurs in the cells that form the retinal tissue. A child with a genetic history of retinoblastoma should attend eye exams regularly to ensure they are not at risk of this type of eye cancer.

How do you treat eye cancer?

Radiotherapy and chemotherapy are the primary treatments for intraocular cancer. However, your oncologist may recommend alternative treatment options such as laser surgery, cryotherapy or surgery, depending on the size and stage of cancer. Your doctor will also consider your general health status, history of medical procedures and fitness levels to determine your eligibility for a specific treatment plan.


How do I know what eye cancer looks like?

The following could be indications of intraocular cancer:

  • Floaters (light flashes)
  • A dark spot on the iris
  • Change in the shape and size of the pupil

At what age is it common to get eye cancer?

Eye cancer normally occurs at the age of 55.


Can eye cancer affect the brain?

Yes. Malignant cancer can travel to the optic nerve and brain.

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