Eye cancer though rare is a type of cancer which usually affects the outer part of the eyes. The different types of eye cancer include intraocular cancer, Melanoma, and Lymphoma. Intraocular cancer usually begins in the eyeball area or in the iris, while Melanoma generally develops in the middle layer of the eyeball called uvea. In Lymphoma, cancer begins in the cells of the immune system called lymphocytes. Starting from the lymph nodes, it affects the internal organs like lungs, stomach and occasionally the eyes.
The following factors can raise a person’s risk of developing eye cancer:
1) Age, Gender, and Eye color – Primary intraocular melanoma usually gets detected in people over the age of 50. Women are less susceptible to it as compared to men. Eye melanoma is generally detected in people with gray, green or blue eyes as compared to people with brown eyes.
2) Moles and spots in the eye – People having a large number of moles on their eyes that are generally irregular and unusual in shape and color have the tendency of being cancerous. Spots in the eye that look abnormal, pigmented especially in the uvea or iris are also signs of eye melanoma.
3) Hereditary reasons – Though very rare, but uveal melanoma can pass from generation to generation, due to a change or mutation in BAP1 gene. Such families have the risk of being diagnosed with uveal melanoma.
4) Over exposure to sunlight and UV radiation – Over exposure to strong rays of the sun can affect the eyes and can cause squamous cell carcinoma in the eye, particularly for people living in areas where the sun’s light is strong. It often leads to squamous cell carcinoma of the eye. Exposure to UV radiation for a longer period can increase the risk of melanoma of the eye, for example, UV radiation from the tools can affect the welders or people using sunbeds are more at risk.
5) Weak immune system – A person having a weak immune system has the risk of developing lymphoma of the eye. For example, people diagnosed with HIV, rheumatoid arthritis or rare medical syndromes which drastically affect their immune system.
Treatment of eye cancer depends on many factors like early detection, stage, and type of cancer, the health of the patient and the side effects. Always consult with your doctor about the treatments and be very clear about each and every option. Proper care should be taken about the overall health and eyesight of the patient to prevent and minimize the risk of spreading the tumor further.