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Our eyes help us view the world, function and communicate with other people. Being diagnosed with an illness that may affect this can be frightening. The London Clinic has world-leading specialists working with dedicated, multidisciplinary teams. They can provide cutting-edge therapies and support in a comfortable, stress-free environment.

Detail of an eye

Ocular or eye cancer is relatively uncommon with around 500 cases being diagnosed in the UK every year1. Early diagnosis and quick, effective management by a specialist team can offer the best chance of a cure.

The London Clinic is committed to providing the best cancer care for our patients. From first diagnosis, through treatment and recovery, our expert teams are dedicated to supporting you every step of the way.  

What is eye cancer?

Cancer develops when cells in the eye start to divide and grow in an abnormal and uncontrolled way, forming a tumour. Several different types of cancer can affect the eyes. The most common in an eye melanoma, which develops from the pigment cells. Other more uncommon cancers include squamous cell carcinoma, lymphoma and retinoblastoma, a rare cancer which develops in childhood.

Cancer can also develop in the skin or tissues around the eye, or may spread from other parts of the body. Different cancers will grow and spread at different rates and require different treatment strategies. This page focuses on the most common eye cancer, melanoma, but your team will customise a plan according to your individual needs.

Who is at risk of eye cancer?

The risk of developing cancer is linked to your age, your genetics and your lifestyle. Anyone could potentially develop eye melanoma, but some people are more at risk:

Age: Your risk increases with age, with few people being diagnosed before fifty.

Light eye colour: People with blue, grey or green eyes have an increased risk.

Pale skin: Eye melanoma is more common in white people with fair skin.

Unusual moles: People with moles that are irregularly shaped or coloured are more at risk of skin cancer and eye melanoma.

Sun exposure: Overexposure to sunlight or sunbed use can lead to a higher risk of eye melanoma.

Signs and symptoms of eye cancer

In the early stages, eye cancer doesn’t always cause obvious symptoms and may only be picked up during a routine eye test. That’s why it’s important to have regular eyesight checks, even if your vision is normal.

Symptoms of eye cancer can include:

  • Visual disturbance such as blurring, flashes of light, wiggly lines or shadows in the field of vision.
  • Loss of vision: this can be partial or total.
  • A dark patch: With melanoma, you may notice a pigmented area that increases in size. 
  • Eye bulging.
  • A new swelling on the eyelid that's getting bigger.
  • Pain in the eye.

These symptoms can be triggered by many minor eye conditions, so there is no need to panic. However, you should see your GP or get an eye-check if you have any concerns.

Why choose The London Clinic?

The London Clinic is dedicated to providing the best, personalised healthcare with over 600 world-renowned consultants available to offer informed health advice and treatment.

Spanning Harley Street and Devonshire Place, The London Clinic is situated in the heart of London’s internationally-known medical district. This central location, together with state-of-the art technologies and facilities that are not widely available in other hospitals, makes The London Clinic the hospital of choice for around 120,000 patients every year.

Offering affordable and competitive self-pay packages and expert support from Clinical Nurse Specialists and our specialised multidisciplinary team, 98% of our patients said they would recommend The London Clinic to their friends and families

Eye cancer specialists at The London Clinic

The London Clinic’s priority is to provide our patients with support, comfort and expert cancer care. The Clinic has a dedicated Eye Centre, offering the latest treatments and investigations.

We have a team of experienced ophthalmologists and cancer specialists to treat your eye cancer. Our surgeons and oncologists can discuss the best ways of treating your cancer and explain the potential side effects.

Our specialists work with multi-disciplinary teams to support both your physical health and your emotional wellbeing. Having cancer can be stressful, The London Clinic aims to make your treatment and your recovery as calm and comfortable as possible.

Investigations and tests at The London Clinic

The London Clinic offers a range of tests to detect eye cancer quickly and efficiently. The high-tech imaging facilities will help your specialist diagnose and stage your cancer, so that you can be given the very best treatment.

Following consultation and assessment in the out-patient clinic, your consultant will arrange tests to discover more about your condition. These can include:

Ultrasound scan: This is often the first line of investigation for someone with worrying eye symptoms. A probe is used to create an image showing the size and location of your tumour. This can be useful for the accurate placement of radiotherapy.

Fluorescein angiography: A dye may be injected into your bloodstream and pictures taken using a specially-designed camera. These images can give more information about the cancer.

Biopsy: A thin needle may be inserted to remove cells from the tumour. These are examined in the laboratory by our expert pathologists.

Cytogenetic testing: Samples from a biopsy may be examined using specialist genetic tests to identify its characteristics. This can help your team understand the risks of the cancer coming back or spreading, so that they can plan the right treatment for your needs.

Treatments for eye cancer at The London Clinic

The right choice of treatment for your eye cancer depends on the type of tumour, as well as its size and stage and whether the cancer has spread.  Your consultant will discuss the options with you and develop a personalise programme of treatment.

Laser treatment: Eye melanoma may be treated by lasers, which are focused onto the cancer cells through the pupil. Follow-up radiotherapy treatment may also be necessary.

Surgery: If the tumour is small and there is the chance of retaining some vision, surgery can be performed to remove the cancer or part of the eye. Removal of the eye or enucleation, may be necessary if the cancer is bigger or your vision has been lost. When the area has healed, a prosthetic eye can be fitted. These are extremely realistic and give a good cosmetic appearance, although they do not function.

Radiotherapy: High-energy X-ray radiation can be directed at the eye socket to destroy cancer cells. The London Clinic has a dedicated radiotherapy suite with the latest image-guided, volumetric arc and intensity-modulated radiotherapy to increase the accuracy of treatment and reduce complications.

Chemotherapy: Different combinations of chemotherapy can be given by mouth or intravenous injection. These prevent the cancer cells dividing and proliferating, helping to shrink the tumour and reduce the risk of spread. Chemotherapy may be used to treat eye cancers due to non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma or retinoblastoma. The London Clinic offers outpatient chemotherapy in a comfortable, private and discreet location.

Eye cancer treatment cost

Cancer care at The London Clinic may be covered by insurance. We also offer affordable, competitive self-pay packages for treatment, biopsy or screening. Please call +44 (0)20 3219 3315 to speak to our helpful team to find out more and to book an appointment.

[1] Eye cancer treatment

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