How Can Routine Eye Tests Help Diagnose Brain Tumours?

eye test

A story that is rare enough to be newsworthy but common enough to appear in the newspaper is how a routine appointment or test revealed a cancerous tumour early enough for it to be diagnosed, treated and stopped.

For example, there is this story published in The Metro of a 16-year-old who went for an eye test after breaking her glasses only for the test to spot that she had medulloblastoma, and this helped her to get it treated promptly and she has since entered remission.

Whilst a wonderful story, it is important to know how these life-saving discoveries can be made, as well as what should be done as a follow-up to ensure that anyone diagnosed gets the treatment they need.

Signs An Optician Looks For

In many cases, people do not get a diagnosis for a brain tumour, growth or lesion until they start seeing symptoms and receive a referral from their GP.

This can be a problem because some forms of cancer do not demonstrate clear symptoms until they reach an advanced stage, which can limit the types of noninvasive treatment that can be done.

As most people should have an eye test every two years, there is a good chance that if there is anything to spot they will find it earlier than you might feel it in yourself.

Some vision issues that can be connected to brain tumours, besides vision loss, include:

  • The onset of recurring headaches or an ache in an odd place on the head that does not seem to go away.
  • Unusual movements, turns and blinking from the eye.
  • Double vision or blurred vision.
  • A tendency to keep the head in an unusual position, such as a head tilt, stiffness of the neck or neck pain.

Opticians usually look closely at your eyes for signs of what might have caused vision issues, and in doing so will pay close attention to the optic disc and the optic nerve.

If there is pressure on the optic nerve, it can be a sign that a tumour is putting pressure on it, whilst a swollen optic disc could be a sign of papilloedema.

If the optician finds something, they will tell you and refer you for further tests and potential treatment, depending on the nature of the growth or swelling, or whether it is a sign of a potential tumour.

Can An Eye Test Find Every Brain Tumour?

The simple answer to this is absolutely not. There are a lot of different types of brain tumours, growths and lesions, and which ones can be found through an eye test can depend on exactly where they are in the brain and what type of cancer it is.

Regardless of this, it is useful if you are concerned, and can serve as an early warning system that will allow you to receive further tests and much less invasive treatments, as the early cancer is found, the easier it typically is to treat and the more options are available for specialists.