Cancer of the eye is infrequent, but if you or a loved one faces this disease, Marshfield Clinic has the rare expertise to treat it, as well as other complex eye problems.
Nikolaos Trichopoulos, M.D., is a retinal specialist at Wausau Center who has advanced fellowship training and experience in treating these rare eye tumors.
"I have seen patients who are totally unaware they have a tumor elsewhere in their body, until it spreads into the eye," said Dr. Trichopoulos. Patients may or may not experience symptoms such as shadows in their field of vision, flashing lights or "floaters." In many cases he can biopsy these tumors, which can help make an accurate diagnosis, guide subsequent treatment of these patients and offer them a realistic prediction for their survival.
"Collaboration with general cancer specialists, to investigate further the source of that tumor, is invaluable. It can be life-saving in those cases," he said.
He and other eye care specialists also treat the more common problems of:
- Macular degeneration, the most frequent cause of vision loss in people age 60 and older.
- Retinal detachment, caused when the retina, the most important part of the eye for our vision, separates from the wall of the eye.
- Diabetic retinopathy, or blurred vision caused by leaking blood vessels in the retina, which normally functions like a film or a digital card in a camera.
While cancer in the eye is unusual, this problem is not. Many people develop macular degeneration as part of the body's natural aging process, but it often goes undetected in its early stages.
When people do start to notice it, their most usual complaint is that their straight-ahead vision has become blurred or distorted. Straight lines appear bent, crooked or irregular. In past years, we couldn't do much for these patients, but recent advancements in technology allow specialists to detect it earlier and treat it, usually with medications injected in the eye.
As we get older, the vitreous gel inside the eye may shrink and pull on the retina. Usually, this does not cause a problem, but sometimes the vitreous pulls hard enough to tear and detach the retina. This can cause symptoms of flashing lights, floaters and shadows in the field of vision. "We use lasers and cryotherapy (freezing) in our office to treat retinal tears," Dr. Trichopoulos said. "Sometimes I inject a gas bubble into the eye to stabilize it. I also perform advanced vitrectomy suture-less surgery in the Ambulatory Surgery Center to correct this problem."
People with diabetes may suffer damaged blood vessels in the retina, and blurred vision. Specialized cameras allow Dr. Trichopoulos to detect damage to the retina at an early stage, when it can be treated with laser surgery, injections of medications or vitrectomy surgery.
Treating retinal problems is almost always more effective when they are detected early, sometimes before patients have any symptoms. That's why we urge everyone to have examinations yearly, or more frequently when appropriate, by an eye care professional who may refer patients to Dr. Trichopoulos. He sees patients at Marshfield Clinic Wausau and Minocqua centers.