Oral & Vision Health Blog

Breast Cancer Awareness Month: Eye and Mouth Care During Chemo

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Here's what you need to know about eye and mouth care during chemo.

Eye Care

It's common for patients who are undergoing chemotherapy to experience problems with their eyes, such as:

Chemotherapy-induced Cataracts

This condition causes vision to degenerate over time due to a buildup of cloudy material in the eye's lens that stops light from passing through the retina. Cataract surgery can greatly improve vision.


Also known as pink eye, this is a bacterial or viral infection that causes inflammation and redness of the eye. It often clears up on its own. But, doctors can prescribe drops for a faster healing process.


This is a condition that damages the optic nerve and causes blindness over time. One cause is the eye's inability to drain ocular fluid. Chemotherapy can cause complications with the drainage system. Doctors can prescribe medications or perform surgery to help the condition's effects.

Helpful Tips

If you're undergoing chemotherapy, here are some helpful eye care tips:

  • Wear UVA/UVB sunglasses in order to delay the progression of cataracts
  • Avoid wearing contact lenses during chemo because they can cause infections
  • Clean your eyelids using a baby shampoo that is ph-balanced for the eyes
  • Keep your eyes hydrated with artificial tears that are free of preservatives

Mouth Care

While chemotherapy is killing cancer cells, it may also harm normal cells including those found inside the mouth. Problems may include:

  • Mouth sores
  • Infections
  • Dry mouth
  • Tender mouth and gums
  • Change in taste
  • Burning, peeling or swelling of the tongue

You should see a dentist if you have any of the above symptoms. However, it's a good idea to see a dentist before starting chemotherapy. This can help prevent serious mouth problems. During this visit the dentist will examine your mouth and gums, take dental X-rays, clean your teeth and give you detailed instructions regarding proper oral health.

How to Keep Your Mouth Healthy

During chemo, it's important to:

  • Drink a lot of water
  • Brush your teeth twice a day using a soft-bristled toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste
  • Avoid using toothpicks and eating crunchy foods because they can cut your mouth
  • Avoid alcoholic beverages and tobacco products 

Keeping your eyes and mouth healthy during chemotherapy is very important. Consult with your ophthalmologist and dentist for more information. 

Avoid Cancer By Practicing Oral Hygiene