Mesothelioma and Vision Problems: Understanding the Symptoms

Mesothelioma is a rare type of cancer that affects the lining of the organs, especially the lungs, heart, and stomach. It is primarily caused by exposure to asbestos, a mineral that was widely used in construction and industrial settings until the 1980s. Mesothelioma is a slow-progressing disease, and the symptoms may not appear until several decades after exposure, making it difficult to diagnose. Apart from the typical signs of mesothelioma, such as chest pain, shortness of breath, and weight loss, there are also several vision problems that may occur in mesothelioma patients.

Visual Symptoms of Mesothelioma

Although vision problems are not as common as typical mesothelioma symptoms, they can still be significant and disruptive for those experiencing them. The following are the visual symptoms of mesothelioma:

  • Blurred vision: When the vision is unclear, and one may have trouble seeing objects, people, or letters correctly, it is known as blurred vision. This may occur when the mesothelioma tumors start to press on the optic nerves, leading to a variety of visual problems.
  • Double vision: Double vision or diplopia is another visual problem a mesothelioma patient may experience. One will see two images of a single object, which causes discomfort and difficulty seeing things clearly. Double vision also results from pressure on the optic nerves.
  • Bulging eyes: Protruding or bulging of one or both eyes can occur when mesothelioma affects the eye socket. This can be caused by the tumor pressing on the eyes or leading to inflammation in the tissues surrounding the eye.
  • Decreased vision: On the contrary, some mesothelioma patients may experience a decrease in vision, where they are unable to see things clearly as before. It may also lead to vision loss in some cases.
  • Light sensitivity: Mesothelioma may also cause sensitivity to light, also known as photophobia. This is when the eyes become more sensitive to light, making it painful to be outside. It's crucial for patients to avoid bright lights that may cause discomfort.

How Mesothelioma Affects the Eyes

Mesothelioma tumors that develop in the chest or abdomen can metastasize to different parts of the body, including the eyes. When tumors affect the eyes, they can cause various visual problems. The mesothelioma tumors may affect the optic nerves, which is responsible for transmitting visual information from the eyes to the brain. The damage caused to the optic nerves may have lasting effects on vision, leading to permanent blindness or visual impairment.

Mesothelioma cancer cells can also spread to the eye orbit, the bony socket where the eye sits. The tumor growth can put pressure on the optic nerve, which results in vision loss or bulging eyes. Mesothelioma cancer cells can also spread to other parts of the body, such as the brain. If the tumors affect the brain, one may encounter vision problems, such as blurred vision, headaches, and seizures.

Diagnosing Visual Symptoms of Mesothelioma

If a person experiences visual problems, it is crucial to seek medical attention immediately. Early diagnosis of mesothelioma can lead to effective treatment, and may help prevent further damage to the eyes or vision loss. A mesothelioma specialist will conduct a physical examination, review the patient's medical history, and carry out diagnostic tests to determine the cause of the visual problems.

The diagnostic tests may include imaging scans such as MRI, X-rays, and CT scans, or an eye exam with an ophthalmologist, who specializes in diagnosing and treating eye problems. Once mesothelioma has been diagnosed, it is important to discuss with a mesothelioma specialist the different treatment options available. The main treatments include surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, immunotherapy, and clinical trials.


Mesothelioma is a rare type of cancer that can cause various visual symptoms in patients. The visual problems range from blurred vision to loss of vision and can disrupt daily activities for patients. Early diagnosis and treatment are key in managing and controlling mesothelioma before it causes further damage. If you or a loved one is experiencing vision problems, it is important to consult a physician immediately for diagnosis and treatment options.