How does cancer affect our vision?

February 4 marks World Cancer Day, a disease that is estimated to affect one in three men and one in four women in a lifetime. However, thanks to scientific and technological research, small steps have been taken to obtain a greater number and variety of cures and to extend the life span of people suffering from the disease.

Among all types of cancer there are some that are more frequent than others, such as lung cancer, colorectal cancer or breast cancer, among others.

But how does cancer affect our vision? Although it may seem unrelated, there are malignant tumors that start in the eye and develop until they spread to other parts of the body. In fact, there is cancer in the eye, although it is an uncommon pathology.

What tumors can affect the eyes?

  • Ocular melanoma. It is the most common tumor and develops in the cells responsible for producing the pigment that gives color to the skin, hair and eyes.
  • Primary intraocular lymphoma. Involves white blood cells located throughout the body. Lymphomas can also appear in organs such as the lungs, stomach and, rarely, in the eyes.
  • Retinoblastoma. It affects young children and is caused by a genetic mutation affecting the retina. Nerve cells in the retina begin to grow and multiply, usually spreading within the eye, but may also spread to other parts of the body.

What eye problems can develop as a result of cancer treatments?

Treatments such as chemotherapy, radiotherapy or other drugs used against cancer can have side effects that affect our vision, among them:

  • Conjunctivitis
  • Cataracts
  • Ocular dryness
  • Photophobia
  • Tearing
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Among the main symptoms that alert to the presence of some of the above problems are:

  • Blurred vision
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Intense eye pain
  • Sudden loss of vision

To try to prevent it, it is important to take care of our diet, increase the consumption of fruits and vegetables, reduce the consumption of sugary and fatty drinks as well as the intake of processed meat.

It is also important to be physically active on a regular basis, as maintaining a healthy weight and exercising can prevent the risk of developing certain types of cancer, such as breast, prostate, colon, lung or kidney cancer.

In addition, you should not neglect your skin and it is important to protect it from the sun, since one out of every five tumors diagnosed is skin cancer.

Finally, it is worth remembering that tobacco is one of the main causes of lung cancer and is related to a wide variety of cancers. Therefore, it is important to prevent it and to achieve this the first step is to stop smoking.

Early detection tests can also achieve a diagnosis when the disease is not advanced, making treatment as effective as possible. These tests include mammograms, cytologies or colonoscopies, among others.