Episode 303: Cancer Symptom Management Basics: Ocular Toxicities

“First, you want to refer patients to an eye care provider prior to initiating therapy, and I think communication at this point is really important. You need to tell the eye care provider why they’re being referred, what treatment they’re getting, the most common ocular toxicities, and also what needs to be done at every visit. They need to do a visual acuity; they need to do a slit-lamp eye exam. And these eye care providers need to know that ahead of time, so they’re doing everything at that visit,” Courtney Arn, APRN-CNP, nurse practitioner at the Ohio State University James Cancer Hospital in Columbus, told Jaime Weimer, MSN, RN, AGCNS-BS, AOCNS®, manager of oncology nursing practice at ONS, during a conversation about ocular toxicities and their management in cancer care.

The advertising messages in this episode are paid for by Dartmouth Hitchcock Cancer Center.

Music Credit: “Fireflies and Stardust” by Kevin MacLeod

Licensed under Creative Commons by Attribution 3.0 

Episode Notes

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Highlights From This Episode

“The most common ocular toxicities that we see with cancer treatments currently are vision impairment, which can include decreased visual acuity or blurred vision. We also see keratopathy or keratitis, very common to have dry eyes, photophobia, eye pain. Sometimes patients can develop cataracts, conjunctivitis, or even blepharitis, which is inflammation of the eyelid.” TS 2:27

“Fortunately, most of the ocular toxicities that develop when being treated with these treatments are short term, and so most of them are reversible. And they actually resolve relatively quickly after stopping treatment that’s causing the ocular toxicity. So usually within one to two months, the ocular toxicities have significantly improved or resolved.” TS 4:55

“Sometimes patients come in and you’re asking them, ‘Are you having any symptoms, or do you have any blurred vision?’ And they’ll say, you know, ‘I haven't been able to see my computer as well,’ or ‘I’ve noticed when driving, I can’t read the road sign.’ And what I really hear often is watching TV, they can’t see the scores of sports games at the bottom of the screen.” TS 7:43

“The nurses are very important in this process from the beginning of doing the patient education prior to them starting therapy, helping with the referral process to getting them in, making sure the patients have their eye drops, making sure they know how to use their eye drops, making sure they’re aware of the signs and symptoms to be calling and reporting, and then also identifying at their visits, too, if they’re having any new symptoms. So they definitely play a heavy, heavy role in this process.” TS 14:22

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