During October, which is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, we want our patients to know how breast cancer treatment may affect their eyes and vision.
Though eye problems aren’t a common side effect, it's important to be aware of the symptoms and seek prompt treatment from your eye doctor.
Possible Effects And Symptoms Of Breast Cancer Treatment
There's growing evidence that certain breast cancer treatments can contribute to dry eye, retinopathy and cataracts, among other problems.
Fortunately, it’s rare for breast cancer patients to develop ocular side effects from their medications. Nonetheless, it’s important to be aware that it can happen, and to let your eye doctor know you’re receiving treatment.
- Tamoxifen, a medication used to prevent a recurrence, can sometimes cause various eye problems, including dryness and irritation of the retina, cataracts and deposits in the area of the macula.
- Some chemotherapy agents, such as 5-fluorouracil (5-FU), can also have negative effects on eyesight. Epiphora may result from 5-FU, while methotrexate has the potential to cause conjunctivitis and other inflammation of the ocular surface.
- There is a growing concern among researchers that aromatase inhibitors – drugs frequently prescribed for adjuvant endocrine therapy – may have harmful side effects on eyesight, including retinal [hemorrhages], increased floaters and dry eye syndrome.
Symptoms of dry eye syndrome may include eyes that are red, dry, watery or itchy. Cataracts cause vision to gradually become blurry, with colors appearing muted. Inflammation may cause redness, pain and swelling. If you experience any of these or other ocular symptoms, be sure to talk to Eye Care Associates in Flagstaff.
Ways To Protect Your Eyes During Breast Cancer Treatment
Here are some tips to help you keep your eyes healthy during and after breast cancer treatment:
Breast cancer patients are encouraged to have a baseline eye exam prior to or within the first year of treatment, which should include an eye exam of the macula as well as tests for central and color vision.
Learn about side effects: Before you begin treatment, speak with your oncologist about possible side effects that could affect your eyes. It's important to be aware of these potential problems so that you and your eye doctor can catch them early.
Protect against eye infections: Chemotherapy can impair your immune system and raise the risk of eye infection. Extra handwashing and avoiding rubbing your eyes may help you avoid eye infections.
Avoid smoking, which can increase your risk of developing dry eye syndrome and several eye diseases.
Eat a healthy diet rich in fruits and vegetables and get regular exercise to help protect your vision and boost your overall health.
If you're facing breast cancer treatment, stop by at Eye Care Associates in Flagstaff. We look forward to being part of your journey to better vision and overall better health.
Be Proactive About Your Health During Breast Cancer Awareness Month Month
At Eye Care Associates, in Flagstaff, we believe it’s the perfect time to spread the word about the importance of early detection, whether it be for breast cancer or eye disease. Together, we can make a difference and be part of your journey to better vision and overall better health.
Q: Is blurred vision a symptom of breast cancer?
- A: Stage 4 breast cancer, or metastatic breast cancer, may be present at the time of an initial diagnosis. And can cause blurred visionThe primary difference between metastatic and non-metastatic breast cancer is their respective symptoms. Metastasis is when cancer cells spread from the tumor's original location in the breast to other tissues or organs, such as bones, lungs, liver or brain, and if it has spread to the brain, it might result in:
• Attention or memory problems
• Blurred vision, double vision or vision loss
• Severe headaches
Q: How Does Nutrition Affect Ocular Health?
- A: Vitamins and nutrients are required for healthy eyes. Many nutrients aid in the maintenance of eye function while also protecting the eyes from UV light. In this way, nutrients can help to minimize your risk of degenerative ocular disorders, which might result in vision loss. Try to consume foods rich in vitamins A, C and E.
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The Optical Department is open from 9am-5pm Monday-Friday.