The American Cancer Society provides community education about eye cancer to help you diagnose symptoms and discover treatments. Two types of cancers can be found in the eye. The first category of eye cancer starts inside your eyeball itself. These are known as primary intraocular cancers with melanoma being the most common form in adults. The second most common is primary intraocular lymphoma. Basically, you can have cancers that start in the eye itself or that originate elsewhere near the eyeball. Regular visits to your eye doctor can help you diagnose and treat any eye conditions—including eye cancer—that can develop.
The National Cancer Institute reports that there are over 100 different types of cancer a person can have. Millions have some form of cancer, while others live their entire lives without having cancer or even knowing someone who has it. You can get cancer anywhere in your body, and the eyes are no exception. While eye cancer is not as prevalent as other types of cancer, it can be just as dangerous. All cancers start when cells in the body begin to grow out of control. Any of your body’s cells can become cancer and then spread to other locations in your body. Without treatment, even the smallest form of cancer can kill a person.
There are two types of cancers you can have in your eyes. The first category of eye cancer starts inside your eyeball itself. These are known as “primary intraocular” cancers with melanoma being the most common form in adults. That means that the cancer tumor started in the eye instead of somewhere else in the body and that melanoma is the most common form. Melanoma is a type of cancer where cells called “melanocytes” grow uncontrollably. You can get melanoma cancer on your skin as well.
Secondary intraocular cancers don’t start in the eye itself but originate elsewhere in the body. The second most common form of eye cancer is “primary intraocular lymphoma”. This is lymphoma that begins to grow in the eyeball. This is a form of cancer that is difficult for doctors to diagnose as it is also considered a type of central nervous system cancer as well. In children, retinoblastoma (cancer that starts in cells in the retina) is the most common primary intraocular cancer. Medulloepithelioma is the next most common type of cancer. However, it is extremely rare, so your odds of having it are low.
People can also develop conjunctival melanoma. This is a tumor in the part of the eye known as the “conjunctiva”. This is the membrane that lines the inside of the eyelid and the outside covering of the eyeball. A form of skin cancer can also lie on the eyelid and is known as “eyelid carcinoma”. This is a tumor that can be surgically removed to get rid of cancer. Although rare, people grow a “lacrimal gland tumor” which is a tumor in one of the glands that produce tears. There are several different types of eye cancers. However, the progression of cancer can be halted or the tumor completely removed if a patient seeks early treatment or visits an eye doctor regularly.
When was the last time you visited your eye doctor? Millions of people in the United States don’t see the eye doctor enough or don’t even have an eye doctor. However, everything you do each day involves your eyes. The way you interact with your environment, the tasks you must complete, the way you learn, the people you see and more all involve eyesight. You want to keep that eyesight in great shape if you are to keep it throughout life. The American Optometric Association recommends that every person has an eye exam at least every 2 years if not more often. If you already have an eye condition—whether common or rare—you should see the eye doctor more often than that.
During this exam, we can spot the early stages of many common eye conditions or the start of eye cancer. Only a professional can see the signs of eye cancer, which means you actually have to see one to ensure your eyes are healthy. At Optical Masters, we have over 100 different ways to test your eyes and see if they are working correctly. We can diagnose changes in your vision, help treat infections, and tell you what your symptoms mean if you have a random problem with your eyes. In many cases, we can stop the progression of eye diseases or prevent them entirely if you are coming into the office for your recommended eye exams.
The best way to protect your eyes from eye cancer is to do all that you can to keep them healthy. Use only the best products for your eyes and the surrounding areas. Clean your hands thoroughly with soap and water before touching them, especially while out in public. Take vitamins often to keep your eyes healthy and eat nutritiously so that your body has all the nutrients it needs to keep every part of it healthy. Most of all, be vigilant with getting eye exams and taking care of your eye health. If you are due for an eye exam, you can call Optical Masters today at (720) 782-2190 to schedule your appointment!