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People living with cancer can experience eye or vision changes during certain kinds of cancer treatment. There are many ways to help you cope with this treatment side effect. This fact sheet covers

  • Common changes to eyes or vision during treatment
  • How to manage any changes to your eyes or vision
  • Where to find help

Common Eye or Vision Changes

  • Blurry vision
  • Diminished peripheral vision
  • Partial loss of sight
  • Watery or dry eyes
  • Eye pain
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Difficulty seeing in the dark
  • Redness or discharge
  • Colors may appear differently

Managing Eye and Vision Changes During Cancer Treatment

Ask questions. Before starting treatment, it may help to ask your doctor the following questions:

  • What are any possible eye and vision changes for my treatment?
  • What are some options to alleviate eye and vision changes?
  • Are glasses preferred during treatment instead of contact lenses?
  • How long can eye and vision issues last?
  • Should I see my eye doctor during treatment? If so, how often?

Talk to your health care team. It is important to talk with your doctor about any changes in your eyes or vision. Some of the things you may want to tell them:

  • The date and time you experience eye or vision changes
  • How long the changes last
  • How strong the changes are—for example, on a scale from 1 to 10, with 1 being the least amount of and 10 the most
  • How your daily activities are affected—did these changes keep you from sleeping, eating, walking, working or exercising?

Getting Help

Ask for help. If you’re sensitive to light and are not comfortable driving, ask friends and family members to take turns driving you to appointments. You may also ask for assistance in preparing meals, grocery shopping and reading prescriptions.

Speak to your health care providers about getting visual aids and support accessories for your home. These may include bath bars to maintain stability while washing, glasses to help reading or a cane or other device to assist with balance.

Talk to an oncology social worker. Oncology social workers provide emotional support and information for people with cancer and their loved ones. CancerCare offers free counseling and resource navigation from professional oncology social workers who understand the challenges faced by people with cancer and their caregivers. We can work with you one-on-one to develop strategies for coping with treatment and its side effects.

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Last updated Thursday, May 16, 2024

The information presented in this publication is provided for your general information only. It is not intended as medical advice and should not be relied upon as a substitute for consultations with qualified health professionals who are aware of your specific situation. We encourage you to take information and questions back to your individual health care provider as a way of creating a dialogue and partnership about your cancer and your treatment.

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