Did you know that children can get eye cancer? It’s called a retinoblastoma, and it’s a cancer that can happen in the retina of the eye. When a baby grows in the womb, they have cells called retinoblasts that continually divide and fill the retina until the retina has the cells it needs to function properly. However, in some children, those retinoblasts don’t stop dividing, which can lead to cancerous growths. With the right treatment and detection, an eye doctor can stop that growth.
Retinoblastoma is a rare form of eye cancer that originates in the retina of the eye. The retina is a light-sensitive layer at the back of your eye that spans about 65 percent of its interior surface. Photosensitive cells–rods and cones–in the retina change light energy into signals that are transferred to the brain by the optic nerve. These signals are then interpreted as the images that you see. Retinoblastoma most commonly affects young children, but can sometimes occur in adults. Retinoblastoma may occur in one or both eyes.
Retinoblastoma is just one kind of eye cancer. There are two categories of cancers you can have in your eyes. The first category of eye cancer starts inside your eyeball itself. These are known as “primary intraocular” cancers with melanoma being the most common form in adults. That means that the cancer tumor started in the eye instead of somewhere else in the body, and that melanoma is the most common form. Melanoma is a type of cancer where cells called “melanocytes” grow uncontrollably. You can get melanoma cancer on your skin as well.
Secondary intraocular cancers don’t start in the eye itself, but originate elsewhere in the body. The second most common form of eye cancer is “primary intraocular lymphoma”. This is lymphoma that begins to grow in the eyeball. This is a form of cancer that is difficult for doctors to diagnose as it is also considered a type of central nervous system cancer as well.
In children, retinoblastoma (a cancer that starts in cells in the retina) is the most common primary intraocular cancer. Medulloepithelioma is the next most common type of cancer. However, it is extremely rare, so your odds of having it are low.
Prevent eye diseases by making adjustments to your lifestyle/diet at home and by visiting our office. Identify your risks for eye diseases by assessing your family history for them. A propensity for macular degeneration, glaucoma and cataracts can all be passed down in the genes. Even refractive eye errors can run in families. Always look for subtle changes in your vision and see the doctor at the first sign of vision change.
The American Optometric Association strongly recommends a comprehensive exam at least every 2 years if you have healthy eyes. If you have eye conditions or diseases, you should see your eye doctor at least once a year, if not more.
A comprehensive eye exam is an opportunity for a medical professional to ensure your eyes are healthy and on track for lifetime service to you.
Need some more advice on your role for maintaining healthy eyes? Our Glendale optometrists will start with a comprehensive eye exam to evaluate the current health of your eyes and advise you on wellness goals. Our team can also provide recommendations for vision correction if needed. Call us at: (303) 223-0401 today to make an appointment. Our friendly staff is excited to meet you and help you with your vision needs!