Eye Cancer: Saving Sight with 24 Karat Gold


GAINESVILLE, Fla. (Ivanhoe Newswire) – About 100,00 people in the U.S. will be diagnosed with melanoma this year. You’ve heard about the unusual moles to check for on your body but, did you know eye cancer can happen in your eyes? Twenty years ago, standard treatment would be to remove the affected eye but now, doctors are using gold to save sight by sowing the seeds of hope.

Tiki Dickerson finds peace with her plants, her big rescue cat, Emmitt, her trick blue healer, Angus, and her bird, Simon. They, along with her husband, gave her comfort when her doctor told her she had cancer.

“My doctor said to me, ‘Tiki, I’ve never seen this before and I’m concerned’,” Dickerson mentioned.

Tiki went to the ophthalmologist when she accidently got eye cream in her right eye.

“The doctor said, ‘I’m not concerned about your right eye, I’m more concerned about your left’,” Dickerson continued.

Dr. Gibran Khurshid, an ocular oncologist and retina specialist at the University of Florida spotted a tiny bubble in Dickerson’s other eye. After surviving breast cancer 12 years ago, Dickerson now faced a diagnosis of melanoma. Ophthalmologists at the University of Florida used gold to save Dickerson’s eye.

(Read Full Interview)

“Gold is used because it doesn’t allow the radiation to scatter. It makes it more precise,” Dr. Khurshid explained.

The gold is used to make a radioactive iodine plaque, sewn onto the surface of the eye. The radioactive seeds inside are half the size of a grain of rice.

“Those seeds are embedded in a mesh and placed on the underside of that plaque,” Dr. Khurshid further explained.

The gold stays sewn onto the eye for four days and is then removed.

Tiki’s melanoma is gone but she’s dealing with some painful side effects.

“Every single day, it feels like a sunburn in my eye, or my eye is being held open with a fan blowing on it,” Dickerson said.

Although painful, her eyesight was preserved, her life saved, and you can bet her furry friends are helping her heal.

Dickerson will be checked for melanoma every three months for a year. Her siblings were also told to be checked as this type of melanoma is genetic. The best candidates for this treatment are people with small to medium sized tumors located towards the front of the eye and who also have good vision.

Contributors to this news report include: Marsha Lewis, Producer; Roque Correa, Videographer, Editor.

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REPORT:      MB #5024

EYE CANCER BACKGROUND: While uncommon, cancer of the eye can develop outside or inside the eye. If inside, the diagnosis is intraocular cancer. The most common types of this cancer in adults are melanoma and lymphoma. Children can also develop eye cancer called retinoblastoma because it starts to develop in the cells of the retina. Treatments will vary on the severity of how advanced eye cancer is. Surgery, radiation therapy, freezing or heat therapy, or laser therapy are all options to treat eye cancer.


DIAGNOSING EYE CANCER: The symptoms of eye cancer are subtle and will most likely be picked up by your primary ophthalmologist. Symptoms may include: bulging of one eye,

complete or partial loss of sight, pain in or around the eye (rare with eye cancer), a pale raised lump on the surface of the eye (the conjunctiva or cornea), blurred vision, change in the appearance of the eye, lump on the eyelids or around the eye, seeing spots or flashes of light or wiggly lines in front of your eyes, loss of peripheral vision, a dark spot on the colored part of the eye (the iris) that is getting bigger, eye irritation, and red eye or chronic inflammation of the conjunctiva. Physical pain is rare unless the cancer spreads to other parts of the body; however, this is uncommon.

(Source: https://www.cancerresearchuk.org/about-cancer/eye-cancer/symptoms)

NEW THERAPY FOR EYE CANCER: A drug to treat eye cancer is beginning clinical trials. Uveal melanoma is the most common form of eye cancer, about 2,500 people in the U.S. get uveal melanoma per year. A team of researchers with the WVU Cancer Institute are developing a cancer treatment that zeroes in on the diseased cells with more precision. They received FDA approval to start trials. The drug is called MTI-201 and will treat uveal melanoma after the cancer has traveled to another part of the body. The treatment focuses on a specific biomarker that is overabundant in uveal melanoma cells. Because the receptor isn’t as plentiful in healthy cells, the drug doesn’t destroy them.

(Source: https://www.technologynetworks.com/drug-discovery/news/drug-to-treat-eye-cancer-drug-set-to-begin-clinical-trials-355579)


Ken Garcia                                        Whitney Spellicy

(352) 559-2178                                 (352) 265-2020

kdgarcia@ufl.edu                            walkwl@shands.ufl.edu

If this story or any other Ivanhoe story has impacted your life or prompted you or someone you know to seek or change treatments, please let us know by contacting Marjorie Bekaert Thomas at mthomas@ivanhoe.com

Doctor Q and A

Read the entire Doctor Q&A for Dr Syed Gibran Khurshid, Associate Professor, Department of Ophthalmology

Read the entire Q&A