Family Health, News Seth Stratton | 6 years ago

Son Knows Best: Physician’s Intervention Helps Save Mom’s Life

Ophthalmologist found his mother's cancer through a routine eye exam.

Eye exams can show if someone has issues with vision, but a routine check-up can also help save someone’s life by detecting cancer. That’s just what happened to Lois Grayson. A few years ago, Lois noticed mild blurriness in her right eye, prompting her son – ophthalmologist Galen Grayson, MD at Atrium Health – to check out her eyes.

He already knew his mother had glaucoma, which can cause blurriness, but her condition was being successfully managed. Even though she had no other symptoms like pain or redness of the eye, Dr. Grayson knew that health issues like a tumor or glaucoma can be silent.

During the exam, Dr. Grayson observed pigmented cells floating in the front part of his mother’s eye. He immediately referred her to another physician for a second exam. After several tests, doctors diagnosed Lois with ocular melanoma, which is the most common cancer of the eye in adults. “The lesson I learned in this case was that a routine eye exam saved my mother’s life,” says Dr. Grayson of Carolinas HealthCare System Ophthalmology Care.

It is unknown why these eye tumors form. Ocular melanoma is different from skin melanoma and isn’t related to sun exposure. Fortunately discovered early, the cancer was contained to her right eye. A total body scan came back negative, and Lois’ eye was removed. She’s since been fitted with an artificial eye.

At 90 years young, Lois is now busy, healthy and independent. “She’s a tough cookie,” says Dr. Grayson. “I’m very proud of how she handled all of it.” Feeling blessed to have her son in her life and for that routine eye exam, Lois is back enjoying her active life and her family of five children, five grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren.