Referral to a specialist for symptoms of eye cancer

Your GP should arrange for you to see a specialist if you have symptoms that could be due to eye cancer. Depending on your symptoms and other factors, this might be an urgent referral.

There are no specific referral guidelines for the different types of eye cancer. There are guidelines for a rare type of eye cancer called retinoblastoma.

Seeing your GP

It can be hard for GPs to decide who might have eye cancer and who might have a more minor condition. For some symptoms, your doctor may ask you to wait to see if the symptoms get better or respond to treatment, such as antibiotics.

UK referral guidelines

There are guidelines for GPs to help them decide who needs a referral.

Some of the UK nations have targets around how quickly you’ll be seen. In England an urgent referral means that you should see a specialist within 2 weeks.

This 2 week time frame is not part of the waiting time targets for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. But wherever you live, you are seen as quickly as possible.  

Ask your GP when you are likely to get an appointment.

Guidelines for urgent referral for retinoblastoma

The GP should refer your child to a specialist if the pupil of the eye looks white instead of black. This is sometimes noticed on photos when there is a flash.

If a specialist thinks your child has retinoblastoma, they will refer your child to a centre. There are two specialist centres in the UK for retinoblastoma. They are the Royal London Hospital and Birmingham Children's Hospital. You should get an appointment within 2 weeks for an urgent referral.

If you're still worried

Sometimes you might feel that your GP is not concerned enough about your symptoms. If you think they should be more concerned, print this page and the symptoms page. Ask your GP to talk it through with you. Then you might be able to decide together whether you should see a specialist.

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