Eye Tumours - Types, Symptoms, Causes & Treatment
With growing concerns regarding health conditions, protecting the eyes and vision has become mandatory. An eye tumour or ocular tumour is an abnormal growth of cells occurring in the eyes.
Want to know all about eye tumours? Stick with this article to find out more!
What Are Eye Tumours?
In general, eye tumours in humans are rare compared to other kinds of tumours and cancer. Commonly, this type of tumours is secondary or metastatic, usually spreading from lungs, breasts and prostates, reaching the eyes. The most light-sensitive tissue of the eyes is the retina, and Retinoblastoma is a tumour type affecting this tissue. On the other hand, Melanoma tumour is a common type, forming pigmented cells around the eyes. Since this kind of tumour is malignant, melanoma can quickly turn into cancer.
Who Is at Risk of Developing Eye Tumour?
There is no specific age group that is at most risk of eye tumour. However, primarily adults of ages 55-65 years are seen affected when it comes to melanoma. It is rare in children and older adults over the age of 70 years. Retinoblastoma (Rb), on the other hand, is a kind of eye cancer-prone to developing in early childhood. Mostly, children under the age of 15 years are affected by this.
What Are the Types of Eye Tumours?
Even though eye tumour is a rare disease, there is no denying that precaution is better than cure. One should be aware of the following types of eye tumours to avoid these.
- Ocular Menaloma: The mention of ocular melanoma can be necessary as a standard type of eye tumour. This kind of tumour mainly affects specific parts of an eye, including the ciliary body, iris and choroid. These three eye areas collectively form the uvea, and pigmented cells formed here end up causing a tumour. While melanoma develops typically from the skin, it is also possible for them to affect the eyes.
- Squamous Cell Carcinoma: Another type of eye tumour might originate in the form of Squamous cell carcinoma. It usually forms in the skin as a type of cancer, but it can spread to the eyes' surface. A sign of white or yellow-pink nodule in the front of an eye signifies carcinoma tumour/cancer. Usually, older Caucasian (white-skinned) patients are affected by this.
- Ocular Lymphoma: Another effective form of eye tumour might occur in a state of lymphoma, termed ocular lymphoma. It mainly contributes to causing redness and reduction in vision. It can also result in future blindness and complete eye damage.
The PIOL/Vitreoretinal Lymphoma type mainly affects the retina, vitreous and optic nerve of the eyes. Another type is Uveal lymphoma, which involves a specific part of the eyes beneath the sclera (the white of the eye). Finally, an Ocular Adnexal Lymphoma can occur in the eye socket, eye lining, lacrimal gland or eyelids.
- Retinoblastoma: One of the most sensitive parts of the eye is the retina, and Retinoblastoma affects these tissues. This kind of eye tumour is more likely to affect children under the age of five. An unusual white reflection in the pupil might signify Retinoblastoma. It can either affect one or both eyes. There are no specific causes of this type of tumour/cancer, but faulty genes might contribute in some cases.
Signs and Symptoms of Eye Tumours
It is known that the eyes are one of the most significant assets of the human body. You, therefore, need to identify these eye tumour symptoms in advance and visit your physicians to diagnose them at an early stage. Some of the common signs visible in every type of eye tumour are as follows.
- Blurred vision in one eye (or both eyes)
- Shadows, flashes of lights, floaters, or wiggly lines in the vision
- Partial or complete loss of vision
- Bulging of one eye
- A growing dark patch in one eye
- A lump on an eyelid
- Change in the iris colour
- Irregular pupil shape or white reflex
If you notice any of these signs of an eye tumour, book an appointment with your physician immediately.
What Causes Eye Tumours?
Healthcare researchers have yet to decide on specific eye tumour causes since multiple reasons can form it in different cases. Usually, melanoma might affect the eyes when errors begin developing in healthy eye DNA. Such errors cause cells to increase randomly, and mutated cells, therefore, might continue living. These cells accumulate to cause eye melanoma.
Benign Eye Tumour: This type of eye tumours is not malignant. These are eye growth that does not spread to other body parts. The reasons behind this include exposure to wind and ultraviolet rays from sunlight. In other cases, viruses can also cause benign tumours around an eye. Ageing and large pigmented moles can result in such eye tumours.
Malignant Eye Tumours: These are cancerous eye tumours, which spread quickly and affect multiple cells. Errors in DNA might cause cells to stop their expected growth, causing cancer development. Faulty genes can also result in the inheritance of cell mutation.
Different Stages of Eye Tumours
Healthcare professionals commonly rely on the TNM system for describing various stages of eye tumours. While the ophthalmologists might not follow these systems, medical oncologists are more likely to use the same.
- Tumour (T): This is the primary stage of a tumour, and a physician mainly looks for its location and size.
- Node (N): In this stage, a physician mainly looks into whether a tumour/cancer has spread to the lymph nodes and checks the number of affected cells.
- Metastasis (M): This is the advanced stage, whereby a physician checks if cancer cells have metastasised to other body parts and their level of growth.
For instance, various stages of tumours are denoted with the help of numbers 1-4, depending on the growth of tumour cells.
- T1: Tumour is restricted to one area (iris)
- T2: Tumour has grown into the ciliary body or choroid
- T3: Tumour has extended to the sclera
- T4: Tumour has spread outside the eyeball, the optic nerve or the eye socket
Recommended Treatments for Eye Tumours
Usually, the process of eye tumour treatment varies from one case to another, based on the size and location of a tumour. The following types of treatments might be standard ones in general when it comes to eye tumour diagnosis and treatment.
A type of internal radiation therapy, brachytherapy places seeds, ribbons or capsules containing a radiation source inside a human body. It comes as a local treatment form and focuses mainly on the affected body part.
In eye cancer, radiotherapy is used to destroy the cancer cells while keeping other cells unharmed. External radiotherapy is primarily appropriate for the eyes, whereby radiation is given from the outside of the body. In uveal melanoma, radiotherapy might be the only treatment.
Surgery or Eye Removal (Enucleation)
The surgical removal of an eye is enucleation, which leaves the sclera and eye muscle intact. A physicist might conduct surgery for removing an entire eye or specific features depending on the spread of cancer/tumour. It helps to stop the spread of affected cells to the remaining body parts.
How to Prevent Eye Tumours?
As healthcare professionals have conducted research to identify a few preventive measures for skin melanoma, these can be followed to avoid eye tumour/cancer.
- Limited exposure to intense sunlight
- Protective clothing and hats
- Wraparound sunglasses with 99%-100% UVA and UVB absorption
- Vitamin-rich food items in regular diet
Thus, you can follow these prevention measures and avoid the possibilities of eye tumour in future.