Cancer is an intimidating word to hear because it conjures up so many scary thoughts and images. Most people immediately jump to the worst-case scenarios in their mind when they hear this word, and it is understandable that people have a certain level of fear associated with something that is this high-stakes.
Given the nature of what cancer could mean for someone diagnosed with it, it is often the case that people will look for any early warning signs that they can possibly detect to see if they can detect what might be going on with their body even before it is abundantly obvious. One thing that some people will be on the lookout for is what they can do if their eyes start to water an unusual amount.
Is A Watery Eye An Early Sign Of Cancer?
A watery eye at the end of an emotional movie or during a traumatic event in real life is something that we expect. However, when one’s eye starts to water without any known reason, it can be troubling to the person going through this. They may start to wonder why this is happening to them and what the root cause is. They wonder: “can watery eyes be a symptom of cancer?”.
Research indicates that it may be possible to have watery eyes as a cancer symptom:
Symptoms of eye cancer in adults and children differ greatly. Most eye cancer symptoms are influenced by the type of cancer. Some of the most common eye cancer symptoms in adults include tiny floating specks in the field of vision (most often non-cancerous), bulging eyes, red or watering eyes, eye pain, dark spots on the iris, and blurred vision.
What this means is that you aren’t crazy for wanting to get yourself checked out if you have recently experienced a watery eye. It doesn’t necessarily mean that you have eye cancer, but it is better to be on the safe side and get things checked out than to assume that everything is okay.
UK Teenager Discovers That Watery Eye Was A Sign Of Cancer
One challenging story out of the United Kingdom detailed how a 19-year old Tasha Jilka learned that she had a rare form of cancer developing in her body after noticing a persistent case of watery eyes. She originally believed that her watery eye symptoms were likely a reaction to allergies or perhaps to some of the cosmetic products that she was using at the time. When she went to get it checked out, it turns out that she had a tumor known as olfactory neuroblastoma that was causing her problems. This tumor was located at the back of her nose, and it was likely pushing on the tear ducts in her eyes, causing them to water.
The good news in this story is that doctors were able to remove the tumor, but they had to reconstruct Tasha’s entire face to do so. It took many doctors visits over a number of years for medical professionals to figure out what was going on. Had Tasha and her doctors simply chopped her symptoms up to allergic reactions for too long, the outcome could have been much worse. It is yet another cautionary tale about taking unusual eye symptoms seriously.
Can Dry Eye Symptoms Be Serious As Well?
It is not as typical for patients to suffer from dry eye symptoms before finding out that they have a diagnosis of cancer, but it is also not impossible. Some studies suggest that this outcome is a possibility for those who have breast cancer in particular. Generally speaking, the more common issues that one might have with their eyes before a cancer diagnosis include:
- Bulging eyes
- Red or watering eyes
- Specks in one’s field of vision
- Eye pain
- Blurred vision
Those are all things that might cause someone to have some serious concerns about the condition of their eyes and if they should get a cancer screening while they are at it. However, dry eyes are a less common symptom. Someone with dry eyes might consider purchasing eye drops to help alleviate the problem for a time. Additionally, they might want to focus some of their energy and efforts on making sure they get away from screens whenever possible. It is a simple fact that a lot of screen time can adversely impact one’s eyes.
Alternative Causes Of Watery Eyes
To give you a complete picture of what is going on with your watery eyes situation, it is only fair that we also discuss some of the other potential causes of your watery eyes. After all, we don’t want to send people into a state of panic when it is not called for. It is only right that we provide a balanced assessment of what could be going on in the event that you have a situation come up with watery eyes. Here are a few things to keep in mind:
Many of us look at screens for many hours of the day. This could be work-related, for fun, or some combination of both. It is likely that you spend more time on screens than you think you do, which could lead to eye strain. Additionally, you may have eye strain if you haven’t been to an eye doctor recently, and you need to check up on your prescription glasses or contacts. Those are all things that could cause you to have additional issues as far as eye strain is concerned.
Do not forget the possibility that you have an eye-specific disease brewing, such as pink eye. This is a potential problem for some people who may have come in contact with another person that is currently suffering from it. You should stay particularly attuned to any outbreak of pink eye in any area that you spend a fair amount of time in. This eye infection is simply because these outbreaks can happen rapidly, and it is a very contagious disease. You may end up with it if there are people around you who have it. It is known for causing symptoms of a watery eye, so be aware that this is a possibility. If you have pink eye but didn’t get in contact with anyone, you may have allergic conjunctivitis, which you should also look into.
You may have injured your eye or tear duct somehow and not even be aware of it when it happened. The human eye is very sensitive, and it is easy to cut or injure part of your eye with minimal or no immediate pain. If you can think back to a recent time when you potentially injured your eye, you might want to get this checked out. You could be suffering from something that you didn’t even realize had happened to you in that moment, such as a damaged optic nerve.
Take a look at the side effects of any prescription medications that you happen to be taking at this time. There is a decent chance that at least one of them has the side effect of causing watery eyes. If that is true of your medications, then you may be experiencing that as a side effect. If the symptoms remain persistent and/or worsen, then you should get it checked out.
Cancer Can Start In One Part Of The Body And Spread To Another
Worryingly, cancer can start in one area of your body and spread to another. When this happens, and secondary cancer ends up in your eye, it is known as eye melanoma. This simply means that cancer has traveled from one part of the body to another. It is not welcome news because it means that cancer is now spreading throughout the body.
A doctor will have to assess each individual patient that they see to get a better idea of what kind of situation they are truly in. However, there is no question that someone who is informed that they have eye melanoma needs to get in touch with medical professionals as quickly as possible. It is a very serious situation, and it needs to be treated as such.
Monitor Your Symptoms
The most important thing you can do as an individual is to monitor your symptoms as they develop. When you first notice that your eyes are watering more than usual, it is probably pretty easy to blow that off. You can think of many potential causes (including those listed above) that might be the root source of this, and you just don’t worry about it as much. However, you should still keep tabs on things to ensure that they don’t become anything more serious. You should also monitor for other symptoms. For instance, if you notice a dark spot on your eye, how worried should you be about an eye freckle? If your symptoms won’t go away or if they worsen over time, then it is time to get in to see a doctor.
Putting off your necessary appointments doesn’t mean that the problems go away, it just means that you are ignoring them. Doing so could worsen the situation in the long run, and you certainly don’t want to risk that. Book an appointment with one of our eye specialists at Immunity Therapy Center to diagnose your eye problem.
Written By: Dr. David Alvarez
Dr. David Alvarez is a Board-Certified Medical Doctor from Universidad Xochicalco and Certified by the American Heart Association (Advanced Cardiovascular Life Support).
Dr. Alvarez has been collaborating with Dr. Bautista as an Assistant Medical Director at the Immunity Therapy Center for over 6 years. He provides daily on-site patient care and participates on the medical board on research and development of patient treatment plans and programs. Dr. Alvarez is a knowledgeable and compassionate Doctor committed to helping patients get to where they want to be health-wise through a more holistic and comprehensive approach.
At Immunity Therapy Center, our goal is to provide objective, updated, and research-based information on all health-related topics. This article is based on scientific research and/or other scientific articles. All information has been fact-checked and reviewed by Dr. Carlos Bautista, a Board Certified Medical Doctor at Immunity Therapy Center. All information published on the site must undergo an extensive review process to ensure accuracy. This article contains trusted sources with all references hyperlinked for the reader's visibility.