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What Is Eye Cancer?

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Eye cancer is an uncommon form of cancer, however the effects are life-changing. Cancer that develops inside the eyeball is referred to as intraocular cancer, however there are eye cancers that develop in the outer layers of the skin such as the eyelids.

There are a number of forms of eye cancer which are discussed in more detail below, the most common however are:

  • Lymphoma.
  • Melanoma.
  • Squamous cell carcinoma.

There are around 800 new cases of eye cancer diagnosed each year.



What are the Symptoms?

Symptoms of eye cancer are not always obvious and although some are diagnosed at routine eye examinations, not all types are picked up. Common symptoms include:

  • Blurred vision.
  • A partial or total loss of vision.
  • A lump on the eyelid, or in the eye, which is increasing in size.
  • Bulging of one eye.
  • Although rare, there may be pain in or around the eye.
  • A dark patch in the eye which is increasing in size.
  • Wiggly line, shadows and flashes of light in your vision.


Although there may not always be a direct reason for the manifestation of eye cancer, there are risks which increase the likeliness of being diagnosed and the following may trigger this:

  1. Eye colour – People with lighter coloured eyes such as blue and green are at a greater risk.
  2. Age – Most common amongst elder people, the average diagnosis is 60 years old.
  3. Race – Melanoma of the eye is more common among Caucasian people.
  4. Moles – Those with atypical moles (that which are abnormal in shape of colour) are at higher risk of eye melanoma as they have a tendency to become cancerous.
  5. Exposure to Sunlight and Ultraviolet radiation.




If you have any concerns regarding your eyes or vision, you should consult your optician or GP urgently.

There are a variety of different tests to determine signs of eye cancer and issue a diagnosis. The test may include:

  • In-depth eye examination.
  • Fine needle biopsy.
  • Computed tomography scan (CT).
  • Magnetic resonance imaging scan (MRI).
  • Positron emission tomography scan (PET).
  • Ultrasound scan.

If a tumour is identified, the most effective form of diagnosis is fine needle biopsy. This involves removing a small piece of the tumour which will be sent to testing.

This will assist the medical professionals in determining whether there are any abnormal cells present and if so whether the same are cancerous. Once a diagnosis has been made a comprehensive treatment plan will be put into place.

Variations of Eye Cancer

There are a number of different types of eye cancer:

  • Melanoma of the eye – Melanoma is a form of cancer which begins in cells of skin called melanocytes, which produce melanin to give skins it’s natural pigment. The most common sign of melanoma is a new mole or change of appearance in an existing mole or other pigmented tissues, such as tissues found in the eye.
  • Squamous Cell Carcinoma – This is a cancer on the surface of the eye. Early treatment is essential in ensuring the best outcomes as delays can result in visual loss, spread of the disease or even death.
  • Lymphoma of the eye – Lymphoma of the eye usually starts in cells of the immune system called lymphocytes.

Lymphoma of the eye is divided into 2 groups:

  • Primary intraocular lymphoma – This type of lymphoma develops inside the eyes. This form of lymphoma is extremely rare and only represents 1% of the population. You are more likely to develop intraocular lymphoma if you have a weakened immune system, so it may affect people who have AIDS or are elderly.
  • Ocular adnexal lymphoma – This develops in the tissue surrounding the eye but is extremely rare. Primary intraocular lymphoma and ocular adnexal lymphoma are generally treated the same way.




Your healthcare professional will compile a comprehensive treatment plan once the type and stage of the cancer has been diagnosed. There are three main types of treatment for eye cancer:

  • Surgery – Surgery to the eye is quite a common form of treatment, especially for people who have intraocular melanoma. The surgery involves an ophthalmologist removing the affected area of the eye, or the entire eye altogether depending on the spread or size of the tumour. Different surgery options include:
  1. Iridectomy – Removal of an area of the iris.
  2. Iridocyclectomy – A removal of an area of the iris ciliary body.
  3. Sclerouvectomy/endoresection – Surgery to get rid of the choroidal tumour, while keeping the eye.
  4. Enucleation – Removal of the eye.
  • Radiation – The use of high energy x-rays to destroy the cancerous cells. The most common type of radiation treatment is external beam radiation therapy, this is given from a machine outside of the body. Traditionally this treatment is usually given after enucleation. This type of treatment can result in cataracts, characterised by a cloudy lens of the eye, resulting in foggy vision, trouble seeing at night and potentially having problems with the glare of the sun.
  • Laser therapy – This type of therapy involves using heat in the form of a laser to shrink a smaller tumour. This treatment is likely to have less side effects in comparison to surgery or radiation therapy. Laser therapy may be paired with radiation therapy for more effective treatment.

Long Term Complications Prognosis

The prognosis for eye cancer depends on the location and the size of the tumour. As eye cancer is quite rare, statistics are made up of a combination of all the types of eye cancers.

In general, for those with eye cancer in England:

  • 95% will survive their first year or more after being diagnosed.
  • 70% will survive 5 years or more after being diagnosed.
  • 60% will survive 10 years or more after being diagnosed.



How Do I Make a Claim?

Eye cancer has previously been misdiagnosed as migraines, despite being extremely severe and causing the removal of the affected eye and potentially surrounding areas of the face.

It is crucial that eye cancer is detected through eye exams and certain scans to prevent it from becoming severe and spreading. If the cancer isn’t isolated through different forms of treatment, this may lead to a lower survival rate.

Eye cancers can be misdiagnosed for several reasons:

  • Insufficient training of medical staff.
  • Inadequate resources of GPs, such as the correct imaging equipment.
  • Human error.
  • Unclear symptoms of the disease.
  • Diverse clinical signs being misinterpreted.

If you feel that a medical professional has misdiagnosed your cancer for any of the reasons above, then you could be entitled to compensation. The team at Oakwood Solicitors will be able to give you free advice on the prospects of your case and whether you would be eligible to make a claim.

You have three years from the misdiagnosis to pursue a case, so do not delay.

How Long Will My Case Take to Run?

Given the complexities involved in pursuing Clinical Negligence claims, they can often take 18-24 months to conclude and longer if Court proceedings have to be issued. Our investigations start by obtaining all relevant records and protocols before approaching independent medical experts for their opinion.

We will provide you with regular updates on the progess of your case to ensure that you are kept up to speed.

How Much is My Claim Worth?

It is often difficult to value Clinical Negligence claims at their outset, given the complexities involved. However, we will pursue two forms of compensation for you:

  • General damages – An award of money for the pain and suffering you have endured as a result of the negligence.
  • Special damages – An award of money for all of your out-of-pocket expenses, such as travel, medication costs, loss of earnings, and treatment costs both past and future. This list is not exhaustive and is very case specific.

Why Use Oakwood Solicitors To Make Your Clinical Negligence Case?

We have a dedicated team of solicitors and paralegals who have many years’ experience between them in running cases of this nature. They are highly trained to deal with all aspects of clinical negligence.

We want to ensure that clients are not overwhelmed by legal jargon, medical terms that they don’t understand and aim to allow the claims procedure to be as transparent as possible.

Ask our team about our No-Win, No-Fee agreement.



How is My Case Funded?

The majority of Clinical Negligence cases are funded by a Conditional Fee Agreement, more commonly known as a ‘no-win, no-fee’ agreement. This means that there will be nothing to pay up front and nothing to pay if the claim has been lost. If you are successful in your claim, a deduction of 25% of damages will be taken to cover the success fee and the shortfall in legal fees.

It may also be the case that an After The Event (ATE) insurance policy will be obtained to cover the costs of expensive medical reports and investigations.

If an ATE insurance policy has to be obtained, the cost of the same will be discussed with you at the appropriate point. The cost of the ATE insurance policy is again taken from your damages and only payable if you are successful with your claim.

Charities/Useful Websites

Cancer Research UK

Leading charity in fighting all types of cancer, but includes detailed information on eye cancer.

Childhood Eye Cancer Trust (CHECT)

A charity dedicated to helping families and individuals affected by retinoblastoma www.chect.org.uk.


If you have been affected by misdiagnosis or late diagnosis of eye cancer, or require any advice about legal proceedings – get in touch today for a free initial consultation. Choose one of the methods on the right-hand side of this page, or call us on 0113 200 9787 to find out how we can help you.

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Carol Cook

Head of Department - Medical Negligence

0113 200 9780

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