Who treats eye cancer?

You may need to see various doctors and other health professionals when deciding what treatment to have. They all specialise in different aspects of the treatment.

People involved in treating eye cancer

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

An oncologist is a doctor who specialises in treating cancer. This is most often with radiotherapy, chemotherapy or targeted 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. They organise your care between the eye specialists and other health professionals. 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 usually a social worker attached to cancer units. They 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 
  • cancer specialists
  • a specialist ophthalmology nurse
  • an occupational therapist
  • radiotherapy doctor 
  • a pathologist

Your local hospital may refer you to a dedicated eye cancer unit. This is 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
  • 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. They may have already discussed your test results and case notes to decide 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.


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