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Certain childhood cancer treatments can increase risk for developing cataracts, which cloud the clear lens of the eye. Vision problems can have a major impact on daily living, so it is important for survivors who are at risk for cataracts to have their eyes checked when needed.
A cataract is a clouding of the lens of the eye, which is normally clear. They grow slowly, but as the clouding worsens vision can be affected.
Common symptoms of cataracts include:
Not all cataracts need treatment. In many cases, an ophthalmologist may monitor your vision for years before treatment is needed. The only treatment is to remove the lens and replace it with an artificial one. It’s a low-risk procedure that is done on an outpatient basis. It is usually very successful in restoring vision.
Survivors who received certain medicines, such as busulfan and corticosteroids, have a higher risk for cataracts. Radiation to the eye and surrounding area, head or brain, and whole body also increases risk. Risk goes up with higher radiation doses, exposure to sunlight, and time since treatment.
All survivors should have routine eye exams. A full eye exam
should be performed by an ophthalmologist every year if you had:
If you had lower doses of radiation, you’ll need a full eye exam only once every three years.
You can also protect your vision by following these tips: