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Leukaemia means a cancer of the white blood cells. It is an uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells that usually affects body tissues, thus hindering the body’s ability to fight against infections.

Cancer can develop anywhere within the body. But with leukaemia, the growth of abnormal cells begins in the bone marrow and then spreads into the bloodstream but it does not form lumps.

Effect on the eyes

When it affects the eyes, the symptoms include damaged blood vessels, optic nerve swelling, bleeding in the retina, blurry vision, and sometimes vision loss (if a nerve within the cranium is affected). Sometimes, a growth can also develop behind the eye, and this can harm a person’s vision. It is therefore important for people with leukaemia to undergo regular eye examinations.

Treatment

Patients who have experienced the adverse effects of leukaemia in the eyes are usually treated by taking oral tablets. Treatment can also be given by administering medications such as anti-VEGF 13,17 and MTX injections, which are injected directly into the vitreous layer of the eye. These treatment methods are effective in repairing the damage caused by leukaemia to the eyes. The doctor would recommend whichever method would work best for each patient depending on their condition.

Care during treatment

Cancer patients usually need chemotherapy or radiation treatments and these also affect the eyes. Therefore, the patient needs constant check-ins with an eye health professional when undergoing treatment.

Possible prevention

One cannot overemphasize the importance of antioxidants in helping fight cancer. Supplements that contain vitamins and minerals are also of great help in fighting the onset and growth of cancer cells in the eyes. UV protection is also a means of cancer prevention. Use sunscreen, wear a hat and use 100% UV protection glasses to protect your face and eyes.

While the cause of cancer is unknown, applying these preventive measures can help protect your eyes and general health.