Changes in your sight after nasal and sinus cancer
This page is about coping with changes in your sight (vision). You can find the following information
Changes in your sight after nasal and sinus cancer
Nasal and sinus cancers may cause problems with your sight. It will depend on the exact type of cancer you have and where it is. Problems can range from very minor changes in your vision to complete loss of sight in one eye. If your cancer involves the eye or the bone and tissue surrounding it (the orbit), you may need to have your eyeball or orbit removed.
It is more likely that the cancer would only affect one eye. If you have reasonable sight in the other, this won’t make too much difference to your ability to see. The most common difficulty is loss of perspective. With only one eye, it can be difficult to judge distance. Throwing a ball up and catching it will help you get used to this. You may find you are more likely to knock things over or bump into things. You are still allowed to drive with loss of sight in one eye.
Coping practically with sight changes
Even if the cancer has only affected one eye, you may have vision difficulties because the sight in your remaining eye isn’t perfect. A change in how well you see can have a big impact on your ability to read, drive, work and get around. There is a lot of help available to people with visual problems, and this can make life easier. The help you need depends on how your vision has been affected. Your doctor and specialist nurse will help you get the help and support you need.
You can view and print the quick guides for all the pages in the living with nasal cancer section.
Nasal and paranasal sinus cancers may involve the eye or the bone and tissue surrounding the eye (the orbit). If this is the case, you may need to have your eyeball or orbit removed. This will mean you will have changes to how well you can see.
These cancers are very rare and do not always cause problems with your sight. It will depend on the exact type of cancer you have and where it is. The more advanced the cancer, the more likely it is to affect your sight. Problems can range from very minor changes in your vision to complete loss of sight in one eye.
It is more likely that the cancer would only affect one eye. If you have reasonable sight in the other, this won’t make too much difference to your ability to see. The most common difficulty is loss of perspective. We use both eyes to fix on a point in the distance and judge how far away it is. So if you only have one eye, it can be difficult to judge distance. Throwing a ball up and catching it will help you get used to this.
You are still allowed to drive if you only have sight in one eye. But most of us find that our night vision gets worse as we get older. So if you only have one eye, it is important to think carefully about how safe it is for you to be driving at night.
You may find you are more likely to knock things over or bump into things. This will improve, but you will always have a tendency to bump into things that are on your blind side.
If you have had any changes in your vision it is important that you have regular check ups with an eye specialist. This may be every 6 months or less often depending on how much your sight is affected. Your cancer doctor will arrange your eye check ups during your regular follow up appointments.
If you’ve had one eye completely removed, you will need to make sure that you look after your remaining eye and regular check ups with an optician is the best way to do that.
Even if the cancer has only affected one eye, you may have vision difficulties because the sight in your remaining eye isn’t perfect.
A change in how well you see can have a big impact on your ability to read, drive, work and get around. There is a lot of help available to people with visual problems, and this can make your life a lot easier. The help you need depends on how your vision has been affected. Here is information on a range of things that may help.
- Day to day life with poor vision
- Aids for poor vision
- Registering as blind or partially blind
- Using electronic and digital aids
If your vision has been affected by your cancer you are likely to find it more difficult to get around. At first this can be very hard. You may find that you are bumping into things a lot, and that you cannot find your way as easily as you used to. Make sure you give yourself time to adjust and it will get easier.
You can get advice from doctors, nurses and organisations that deal with vision loss about how to cope with everyday things such as reading, writing, making phone calls, shopping and housework. For example, a small tape recorder can be very useful for recording shopping lists, phone numbers and street directions.
It is unlikely that your cancer will cause complete blindness, but if you already had visual loss in your other eye you may need a guide dog. Your specialist eye doctor will help make this decision.
Not being able to read like you used to may be one of the hardest things you have to come to terms with. If you enjoy reading, you may want to get hold of books with larger print, or listen to audio books. Or ask a family member to read to you. Calibre Recorded Books is an organisation that aims to make the pleasure of reading available to anyone who cannot read ordinary print books for whatever reason. You can phone them on 01296 432 339.
The Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) on phone number 0303 123 9999 can advise you on software that reads out the contents of your computer screen. UK websites have to make sure that their sites work with this technology under the Disability Discrimination Act. Cancer Research UK's patient information website is fully accessible in this way. You can also change the font size of accessible websites to make it larger and so easier to read. There is some more information about electronic aids below.
You may need to wear glasses or contact lenses, but you may also be able to improve how well you see by using low vision aids. These include magnifiers or monoculars (a glass magnifier that fits in the eye socket) that you can carry around in your pocket or bag to use when necessary. For example, they can help with reading very small print or road signs, and seeing far off scenery.
Contact your nearest eye hospital or the RNIB to find out where you can get these aids for poor vision.
If your eye doctor thinks your sight is very poor and is unlikely to improve, they will suggest you register your sight problems with your local health authority. There is one register for those who are partially sighted and another for those who are blind.
Being registered on either of these will allow you to get help with home life, getting around in your community, work and any further education you want to do. The help includes
- Personal Independence Payment (used to be Disability living allowance)
- Possible funding for education
- Concessions on transport, tax credits and your television licence
- Disabled parking permit
You will also be supported and protected by the Disability Discrimination Act. This aims to stop discrimination against disabled people. There is more information about other financial support you may be entitled to in our coping with cancer section.
If your sight has been affected you may benefit from using a computer or electronic notepad in your work and home. Computers are available with Braille keypads and displays and with speech software. If you have some vision, you can simply make the text bigger on your browser (the programme you use to use the web).
You could also install software on a normal laptop or desktop computer to enlarge text, or to give you the option to work with speech instead of writing. There is a range of computer programmes that can help you use the web, even if you have no sight. They can read the words off the screen for you. It is also possible to fit your computer with a Braille display.
You may find it useful to contact AbilityNet UK. They are a charity that helps assess the electronic needs of people with disabilities. The RNIB website has a lot of information on using the internet with sight problems.
Some of this equipment is very expensive and it can be difficult to know exactly what would benefit you the most. You may want to contact the British Computer Association of the Blind on phone number 0845 643 9811. This is a self help group of visually impaired computer professionals and users.
Losing some or all of your sight can be very distressing and have a big effect on your life. As well as dealing with the practical problems that come with sight loss, you may also have to cope with feelings of anger, low self esteem and sadness.
If you have a false eye (prosthesis) put in, you will probably feel very self conscious for some time and worry about how others see you. Our eyes play a big part in communicating with others. If someone avoids looking you directly in the eye, it can be very off putting and make conversation very difficult. In fact, with modern false eyes, it is sometimes very difficult for people to tell which is the false one. So they may think they are looking you in the eye, but it’s not the one you can see out of. This just takes a bit of getting used to.
You may also feel that you are less attractive to your partner, and worry about your sexual relationship. There is information about changes in your sex life in this section.
It often helps to talk to those close to you about how you are feeling. Or you may prefer to talk to someone who doesn't know you. There are counsellors within the NHS experienced in talking to people who have lost some or all of their sight. If you would like to talk to someone other than your own friends and family, look on our page about counselling organisations. To find out more about counselling, look in our section on counselling.
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