Cancer symptoms: Four signs in your eyesight to get checked by a doctor – NHS advice

Adele Roberts says her cancer diagnosis 'was a shock'

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Cancer Research UK explains: “Eye cancer is a general term that includes different cancer types. The type of cancer you have depends on the type of cell it starts in. There are different parts of the eye and some of these are more likely to get cancer than others.” It is a rare cancer, and signs can be caused by a number of other factors, but it is advised that you always check with your doctor.

Cancer that starts in the eye is called primary eye cancer, but sometimes cancer can spread to the eye from another part of the body. This is called secondary eye cancer.

Cancer Research notes: “ In women this is most likely to happen with breast cancer, and in men this is most likely to happen in lung cancer.”

The NHS says that eye cancer does not always cause obvious symptoms and may only be picked up during a routine eye test.

Nonetheless, there are several symptoms of eye cancer which can show up in your vision.

These can include shadows, flashes of light, or wiggly lines in your vision, blurred vision, a dark patch in your eye that’s getting bigger, or partial or total loss of vision.

The healthy body says other signs include bulging of one eye, a lump on your eyelid or in your eye that’s increasing in size and pain in or around your eye, although this is rare.

Cancer Research says: “Pain is quite rare unless the cancer has spread to the outside of the eye or caused the pressure inside the eye (intraocular pressure) to become too high.”

The NHS says: “These symptoms can also be caused by more minor eye conditions, so they’re not necessarily a sign of cancer. But it’s important to get the symptoms checked by a doctor as soon as possible.”

Moreover, Cancer Research says eye cancer is very rare. Around 850 cases are diagnosed in the UK every year.

It adds: “Remember that cancer of the eye is rare. Eye conditions that aren’t eye cancer can cause many of these symptoms. It is important that you report any of them to your GP or optometrist.“

The charity explains that an optometrist is a healthcare professional trained to examine the eye.

It says: “They can identify conditions and diseases that affect the eye including eye cancers. They will then refer you to an ophthalmologist (eye doctor) for specialist treatment.”

It adds: “The earlier a cancer is picked up, the easier it is to treat it. This makes it more likely for the treatment to be successful.”

It adds: “You should see your doctor or optician if you notice a change that isn’t normal for you or if you have any of the possible signs and symptoms of eye cancer.”

The NHS says that eye melanoma occurs when the pigment-producing cells in the eyes divide and multiply too rapidly. This produces a lump of tissue known as a tumour.

It says it’s not clear exactly why this occurs, but the following factors may increase the risk of it happening:

  • Lighter eye colour – if you have blue, grey or green eyes, you have a higher risk of developing eye melanoma compared with people who have brown eyes
  • White or pale skin – eye melanoma mostly affects white people and is more common in those with fair skin
  • Unusual moles – if you have irregularly shaped or unusually coloured moles, you’re more at risk of developing skin cancer and eye melanoma
  • Use of sunbeds – there’s some evidence to suggest that exposing yourself to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from sunbeds, for example, can increase your risk of eye melanoma
  • Overexposure to sunlight – this increases your risk of skin cancer, and may also be a risk factor for eye melanoma.

The NHS adds: “The risk of developing eye melanoma also increases with age, with most cases being diagnosed in people in their 50s.”

There are several general known risk factors. Indeed, cancer Research says: “Doctors have identified a rare inherited condition called BAP1 cancer syndrome. Families with this have a change (mutation) in the BAP1 gene.

“People with this gene change have an increased risk of uveal melanoma, skin melanoma and some other cancers.

“The uvea is the middle layer of the eye. Most adult eye cancers are a type called uveal melanoma.”

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