Seven early red flag signs of eye cancer – symptoms not always obvious

Cancer symptoms: Top 14 early signs to look out for

Around two million people in the UK are thought to be living with some kind of sight loss.

While vision problems can be a natural part of the ageing process, they can also be genetic or a symptom of something else.

According to one expert, they can also signal a rare but potentially dangerous disease.

Dan McGhee, clinical services director at Vision Express, warned that different forms of sight loss could be a sign of eye cancer.

He told “Eye cancers are very rare with around 850 cases of eye cancer diagnosed each year.

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“There are not always obvious symptoms for eye cancer and it is most likely to be picked up during a routine eye test.”

He shared seven “early” signs of eye cancer to be aware of:

  • Shadows, flashing lights or lines in vision
  • Blurred vision
  • Dark patches which are constant and increasing with size
  • Loss of vision
  • Bulging eyes
  • Lump on eyelid or in the eye which is getting bigger
  • Irritation which does not relent.

Dan also urged people to be wary of a change in appearance of the eye (iris colour), loss of peripheral vision and pain in the eye, which is rare unless cancer has spread to outside of the eye.

However, he warned that some of these symptoms could easily be mistaken for signs of other, less serious, conditions.

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For example, shadows, flashing lights or lines in vision could be misdiagnosed as posterior vitreous detachment or a visual migraine.

Blurred vision can also be a sign of refractive change, dry eye or cataracts, he said.

The symptom of bulging eyes could be mistaken for thyroid disease, while a lump on eyelid or in the eye might be contributed to the conditions cutaneous horn, pinguecula, chalazion or hordeolum.

Similar to blurred vision, eye irritation that does not relent could be mistaken for chronic dry eye, Dan said.

While loss of peripheral vision is also a sign of glaucoma.

When to seek medical help

Due to the potential for eye cancer symptoms to be misdiagnosed, Dan stressed the importance of seeking advice from your GP or optician.

He said: “Eye cancer is very rare and many of the symptoms are often benign conditions but it really is important to report any new symptoms to your optician or GP.

“The optician or GP will investigate the signs and symptoms and if necessary, refer you to an ophthalmologist for further investigation or treatment.

“Early intervention is key, if you are unsure, book an eye test.

“In the unlikely event eye cancer is present, early treatment will often lead to a more successful outcome”

According to Cancer Research UK, there are around 850 new cases of eye cancer in the UK every year. These result in around 120 deaths annually.

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