A rare and difficult disease to diagnose, eye cancer can have devastating consequences to vision and overall health. The American Cancer Society estimates over 3,000 cancers of the eye are diagnosed annually, and over 300 people die of the disease each year.
Every part of the eye is vulnerable: the eyeball, eye socket and eyelid can all develop cancer. Eyeball cancers include melanoma, lymphoma and retinoblastoma, while eye socket cancers include lymphoma, carcinomas and sarcomas. Eyelid cancers include basal and squamous cell carcinomas, sebaceous carcinoma and melanoma.
Symptoms of eyeball and eye socket cancers include blurry, double or loss of vision, floaters (drifting spots), a growing dark spot on the iris, a change in the size or shape of the pupil, a change in the eyeball's position or a bulging of the eye. Eyelid cancer may appear as new lumps, bumps or pigmented lesions on the eyelid.
Intraocular melanoma, perhaps one of the most dangerous forms of eye cancer, has a strong propensity to spread beyond the eye, and can target the liver, sometimes resulting in death. Risk factors include having light skin and/or blue eyes and an inherited condition known as atypical mole and melanoma syndrome, which causes abnormal moles on the skin. Some experts believe excessive sun exposure may increase the risk of primary eyelid melanoma and other extraocular cancers.
Treatment options for eye cancer vary depending on the location, type and stage of the cancer, and may include surgery, radiation therapy, laser therapy, chemotherapy or targeted therapy.
Much like skin cancer, you can reduce the risk of eye cancer by practicing safe sun habits that protect eyes and eyelids from harmful ultraviolet rays. This can be done by wearing sunglasses and using sunscreen around the eyelids. Additionally, yearly eye exams can help detect any problems with eyes or overall vision.
Because eye cancer is rare and difficult to diagnose, it is especially important to be treated by an ocular oncologist at a cancer center equipped to provide the latest diagnostic tools, innovative treatments and surgical procedures designed to save eyes, vision and lives.
NewYork-Presbyterian cancer centers provide high-quality, comprehensive cancer care at convenient locations throughout the New York metropolitan area, Westchester and the Lower Hudson Valley. NYP offers a comprehensive program of cancer services in state-of-the-art, comfortable environments. There, board certified medical oncologists collaborate with a multidisciplinary team of cancer specialists to provide each patient with an individualized plan of care. To find a location in your area visit nyp.org/cancerlocations.
NewYork-Presbyterian is one of the largest and most comprehensive hospitals in the nation, ranked New York’s No. 1 hospital for the 16th consecutive year, and No. 6 in the United States, according to the U.S. News and World Report. Affiliated with two academic medical colleges – Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons and Weill Cornell Medicine, NewYork-Presbyterian brings together internationally recognized researchers and clinicians to develop and implement the latest approaches for prevention, diagnosis and treatment. The Herbert Irving Comprehensive Cancer Center at NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University Medical Center is only one of three NCI designated comprehensive cancer centers in New York State. NewYork-Presbyterian provides comprehensive cancer care at all of our locations throughout the New York metro area including, Westchester County. Learn more at nyp.org/cancer.