Vision changes can be a treatment side effect for some individuals. Symptoms may include irritated or dry eyes, tearing, redness, pain and blurred vision. Talking to your health care team about treatment side effects can help you find the information and support you need.
Eye or Vision Concerns
Your health care team will want to know about any changes you experience throughout treatment; there is no such thing as over-communicating. You may also want to have an ophthalmologist (an eye doctor) check your eyes to rule out any concerns unrelated to cancer. Some people have other health conditions and take medications that may affect vision, and it’s important to consider other factors that might be contributing to changes in your vision.
Seek individual counseling with a professional. You may feel that the challenges of a cancer diagnosis are yours alone to cope with, but it doesn’t have to be. Oncology social workers provide emotional support for people with cancer and their loved ones and can help you face the challenges of a cancer diagnosis and guide you to resources. CancerCare offers free counseling and resource navigation from professional oncology social workers who understand the challenges faced by people with cancer and their caregivers. We can work with you one-on-one to develop strategies for coping with treatment and its side effects.
Consider joining a support group. Support groups are a safe environment where members can relate to each other through a shared, similar experience. Joining a support group can provide valuable information while providing a chance to talk with others to learn what they do to manage difficult emotions and side effects of treatment.
Sometimes, support groups are led by social workers or counselors. Ask a hospital social worker for a referral, or contact CancerCare. We offer face-to-face, telephone and online support groups for people with cancer and for caregivers. Our social workers can also help you locate support groups in your local area.
Eye and Vision Resources
CancerCare provides financial assistance for people with ocular cancer or any cancer that has had a severe impact on vision. Grants may be applied towards the costs of transportation, home care, child care, treatment expenses, prescription medications, prosthetic devices and genetic counseling. The program is restricted to residents of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut and is funded by a grant from Lavelle Foundation for the Blind.
CancerCare’s Online Helping Hand
CancerCare’s Online Helping Hand is a searchable, online database of financial and practical assistance available for people with cancer. This comprehensive online tool features up-to-date contact information and descriptions for hundreds of national and regional organizations offering financial help to people with cancer. You can search by diagnosis, zip code and type of assistance.
EyeCare America provides free or discounted medication through their Patient Assistance Programs as well as Drug Discount Cards for eye care. More information is available on the website in order to find medications covered and savings discount card.
Lions Club International
Lions Club International provides resources for a number of different focus areas worldwide. A local Lions Club in or near your community may sponsor a program that provides assistance for the purchase of eyeglasses, and access to health-related services, scholarships or educational needs.
Visit www.lionsclubs.org/en/start-our-approach/club-locator to locate a local Lions Club.
New Eyes for the Needy
New Eyes for the Needy helps individuals purchase new prescription eyeglasses through a voucher program for children and adults in the United States who cannot afford glasses on their own. Clients must work through a social service agency or health advocate to submit an application. Applications must be submitted with a copy of a recent eye prescription including the pupillary distance measurement (applicants must have had their eyes examined within the past 12 months).
VSP operates through a network of community partners to provide gift certificates for no-cost eye exams and glasses from a local doctor. VSP Eyes of Hope provides assistance to adults and VSP Sight for Students provides assistance to children nineteen years old and younger.
Edited by Leeann Medina-Martinez, LMSW