San Francisco—Patients who had an eye removed from cancer surgery may experience sensations of seeing out of the missing eye—a phenomenon known as phantom eye syndrome—which can lead to anxiety and depression, according to a recent study.
“We were surprised by how frequent the symptoms were,” said Bertil Damato, MD, PhD, co-author of the study, which was published in Ophthalmology, the journal of the American Academy of Ophthalmology. “We were also surprised that patients actually felt that they could see reality through the eye that was no longer there.”
According to the Academy, the study is one of the largest to examine age, gender, and mood in relation to phantom eye syndrome in patients who underwent eye removal surgery for uveal melanoma.
More than half (61%) of the study’s patients experienced phantom eye symptoms—such as complex images of people—after enucleation, said Dr. Damato, director of ocular oncology at the University of California-San Francisco. The most common reported symptoms in those with phantom eye were:
· Vague visual sensations in the enucleated eye (80%)
· Feeling that they could see out of the eye that was no longer there (46%)
· Pain (39%)
· Seeing formed images (20%)
“These were most often triggered by darkness and resolved spontaneously, or were relieved by sleep or distraction,” Dr. Damato explained.
The symptoms occurred daily in 29% of patients, and more than once a week in another 20%.