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Cancer Health Center

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Late Effects of Treatment for Childhood Cancer (PDQ®): Treatment - Patient Information [NCI] - Senses


Talk to your child's doctor about whether your child needs to have tests and procedures to check for signs of hearing late effects. If tests are needed, find out how often they should be done.


Eye and vision problems are a late effect that is more likely to occur after treatment for certain childhood cancers.

Treatment for these and other childhood cancers may cause eye and vision late effects:

  • Retinoblastoma, rhabdomyosarcoma, and other tumors of the eye.
  • Brain tumors.
  • Head and neck cancers.
  • Cancers treated with total-body irradiation (TBI) before a stem cell transplant.

Radiation to the brain or head increases the risk of eye problems or vision loss.

The risk of eye problems or vision loss may be increased in childhood cancer survivors after treatment with any of the following:

  • Radiation therapy to the brain, eye, or eye socket.
  • Surgery to remove the eye.
  • Total-body irradiation (TBI) as part of a stem cell transplant.
  • Certain chemotherapy drugs, such as busulfan.
  • Corticosteroids.
  • Stem cell transplant and a history of chronic graft-versus-host disease.

Late effects that affect the eye may cause certain health problems.

Eye late effects include the following:

  • Having a small eye socket that affects the shape of the child's face as it grows.
  • Loss of vision.
  • Vision problems, such as cataracts or glaucoma.
  • Not being able to make tears.
  • Damage to the optic nerve and retina.
  • Eyelid tumors.

Possible signs and symptoms of eye and vision late effects include changes in vision and dry eyes.

These and other signs and symptoms may be caused by eye and vision late effects or by other conditions:

  • Changes in vision, such as:
    • Not being able to see objects that are close.
    • Not being able to see objects that are far away.
    • Double vision.
    • Cloudy or blurred vision.
    • Colors seem faded.
    • Seeing a glare or halo around lights at night.
  • Dry eyes that may feel like they are itchy, burning, or swollen, or like there is something in the eye.
  • Eye pain.
  • Eye redness.
  • Nausea.
  • Having a growth on the eyelid.

Talk to your child's doctor if your child has any of these problems.

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