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Who treats eye cancer?

Find out who treats eye cancer and the medical terms for these specialists.

People involved in treating eye cancer

You may need to see various doctors and other health professionals who specialise in different aspects of treatment.

An ophthalmologist (pronounced op-thal-mol-o-gist) is a specialist eye doctor or surgeon trained to treat conditions of the eye.

An oncologist is a doctor who specialises in treating cancer, most often with radiotherapy, chemotherapy or targated therapies.

An ocular oncologist is a doctor who specialises in treating cancers of the eye.

An ophthalmology clinical nurse specialist is a qualified nurse who has specialist knowledge of cancers of the eye. One of their main roles is to help organise your care between the eye specialists and the other health professionals you need to see. A specialist nurse will also help to support you through your treatment and make sure you have the information you need to explain it.

An ocular prosthetist or oculist is a trained eye specialist who designs, makes and fits artificial eyes.

Other health professionals who provide help and support, for example a counsellor or occupational therapist. There is also usually a social worker attached to cancer units who can advise you on money matters, such as benefits and grants you may qualify for.

Being cared for by a multidisciplinary team (MDT)

NHS guidelines emphasise that people with eye cancer should be under the care of a multidisciplinary team. This is a team of health professionals who work together to decide on the best way forward for each patient.

The MDT includes specialist eye surgeons and cancer specialists, a specialist ophthalmology nurse, an occupational therapist, radiotherapy doctor and a pathologist.

Your local hospital may refer you to a dedicated eye cancer unit (also called an ocular oncology unit). The units have a specialist multidisciplinary team for eye cancers.

There are 4 specialist units in the UK, based in Liverpool, London, Sheffield, and Glasgow.

If you are concerned that your treatment is not under a multidisciplinary team, do ask about it. It may be that you have only seen one specialist, but the team have still got together with your test results and case notes to discuss the best treatment options for you.

If you are having check ups, you may be under a system of shared care. This is when you have appointments at the specialist centre and also with the ophthalmologist at your local hospital.

Information and help