Diagnosis

In order to diagnose eye cancer, a doctor may perform one or multiple tests. The tests are largely dependent on the type of eye cancer to be diagnosed.

Intraocular Melanoma

If a patient has symptoms of Intraocular Melanoma, a doctor may perform one or more of the following procedures:

Eye Exam with Dilated Pupil: An examination of the eye in which the pupil is dilated (enlarged) with medicated eyedrops to allow the doctor to look through the lens and pupil to the retina. The inside of the eye, including the retina and the optic nerve, is examined using an instrument that produces a narrow beam of light. This is sometimes called a slit-lamp exam. The doctor may take pictures over time to keep track of changes in the size of the tumor and how fast it is growing.

Indirect Opthalmoscopy: An examination of the inside of the back of the eye using a small magnifying lens and a light.

Ultrasound Exam: A procedure in which high-energy sound waves (ultrasound) are bounced off the internal tissues of the eye to make echoes. Eye drops are used to numb the eye and a small probe that sends and receives sound waves is placed gently on the surface of the eye. The echoes make a picture of the inside of the eye.

Transillumination: An examination of the iris, cornea, lens, and ciliary body with a light placed on either the upper or lower lid.

Fluorescein Aniography: A procedure to look at blood vessels and the flow of blood inside the eye. An orange fluorescent dye (fluorescein) is injected into a blood vessel in the arm. As the dye travels through blood vessels of the eye, a special camera takes pictures of the retina and choroid to detect any blockage or leakage.


Retinoblastoma

If a patient has symptoms of Retinoblastoma, a doctor may perform one or more of the following procedures. If a patient has symptoms of Ocular Melanoma, a doctor may perform one or more of the following procedures:

Physical Exam: An exam of the body to check general signs of health, including checking for signs of disease, such as lumps or anything else that seems unusual. A history of the patient’s health habits and past illnesses and treatments will also be taken. The doctor will ask if there is a family history of retinoblastoma.

Eye exam with Dilated Pupil: An exam of the eye in which the pupil is dilated (opened wider) with medicated eyedrops to allow the doctor to look through the lens and pupil to the retina. The inside of the eye, including the retina and the optic nerve, is examined with a light.

Ultrasound: A procedure in which high-energy sound waves (ultrasound) are bounced off internal tissues or organs and make echoes. The echoes form a picture of body tissues called a sonogram.

CT Scan (CAT scan): A procedure that makes a series of detailed pictures of areas inside the body, such as the eye, taken from different angles. The pictures are made by a computer linked to an x-ray machine. A dye may be injected into a vein or swallowed to help the organs or tissues show up more clearly. This procedure is also called computed tomography, computerized tomography, or computerized axial tomography.

MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging): A procedure that uses a magnet, radio waves, and a computer to make a series of detailed pictures of areas inside the body, such as the eye. This procedure is also called Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Imaging (NMRI).

* Generally, Retinoblastoma is diagnosed without the need for a biopsy (removing sample tissue.)

Once the results from the test or procedure are returned you will be able to make thoughtful decisions. Please see Newly Diagnosed  for information on being patient active, treatment decisions, partnering with your healthcare team and finding support. 

Receiving a cancer diagnosis is difficult. Please see Caregivers and/or Online Support for more information on how the Cancer Support Community can offer support.

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