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Ocular Lymphoma – A Major Indicator of Brain Involvement in Patients with Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma
Ocular lymphoma, also referred to as intraocular large cell lymphoma, is a subtype of Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma that primarily affects the central nervous system. The incidence of ocular lymphoma among the global population has known a pronounced decrease since 1960, although paradoxically it has slightly increased in the last few years. Although there isn’t enough evidence to support this theory, medical scientists believe that the recently increased incidence of the disease is mainly caused by prolonged treatments with immuno-suppressing drugs. However, in the absence of conclusive findings, this supposition has been disregarded by most oncologists.
Ocular lymphoma has the highest incidence among the male gender, and predominantly affects people with ages over 50. The categories considered to present the highest risk of developing this subtype of lymphoma are patients diagnosed with AIDS, patients who have suffered complicated surgeries and persons with native impairments of the immune system – especially people affected by the Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome. The implication of lymphoma at ocular level generally occurs in the incipient stages of the disease at brain level. Recent studies have revealed that in the majority of cases, ocular symptoms precede the occurrence of symptoms at the central nervous system level.
Patients diagnosed with Non-Hogkin’s Lymphoma at the level of the central nervous system may either present with intracranial nodules, meningeal or periventricular lesions, retinal affections or localized spinal malignant excrescences. Ocular lymphoma generally produces symptoms such as decreased vision, and inflammation of the eye. Despite the fact that ocular lymphoma may cause serious decreases in visual acuity and pronounced inflammation, pain is a rare symptom of this variety of lymphoma. Ocular lymphoma may at first affect only one eye, affecting both eyes in later stages of disease. Although this lymphoma subtype can be overcome with the aid of existing treatments, its occurrence often announces the occurrence of serious impairments at brain level, problems that are more difficult to cure. Thus, ocular lymphoma can be considered a major indicator for Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma at brain level, allowing doctors to timely intervene in order to minimize the development of further complications.
Patients with suspected ocular lymphoma need to go through a series of neurological investigations. The presence of symptoms such as headache, reduced vision, poor concentration, confusion or memory loss, corroborated with clinical signs of ocular lymphoma clearly point to involvement of the central nervous system in the disease. In order to slow down the progression of the lymphoma and to reduce the risks of complications, doctors often prescribe a series of medication treatments and therapies. Radiation therapy is generally recommended to patients with ocular lymphoma and in more severe cases, this form of therapy is combined with chemotherapeutic drugs.
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