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Eye and Orbit Cancer in 9/11 Responders and Survivors


9/11 responders and survivors face a serious risk of developing various types of cancer due to inhaling the fumes in the toxic dust cloud that covered lower Manhattan following the terrorist attacks. Since many cancers do not develop until years after exposure, responders who aided in the rescue, recovery, and cleanup efforts — and survivors who lived or worked in the area — continue to be diagnosed to this day. Tragically, eye and orbital cancers have been found in those who were at Ground Zero and in the NYC Exposure Zone.

Eye and orbital cancers can significantly impact your life and livelihood. If left untreated, these conditions can also be fatal. If you are a 9/11 responder or survivor who was diagnosed with eye or orbital cancer, you may be entitled to a monetary award from the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund. You may also be eligible for compensation if you lost a loved one due to the condition. 

Symptoms of 9/11 Eye and Orbital Cancer

Eye cancer — also known as ocular melanoma — is a form of cancer linked to the carcinogens found in the 9/11 dust cloud. It is certifiable by the WTC Health Program and recognized by the VCF as eligible for compensation. Significantly, cancer of the eye can develop in the three main layers of the eye, including the sclera, uvea, and retina. It can also begin in the orbit or the adnexal structures (the eyelids and tear glands).      

Symptoms of 9/11 eye cancer can include:

  • Blurry vision
  • Loss of vision
  • A dark spot on the iris
  • Change in the pupil shape or size
  • Bulging
  • Changes to how the eye moves 
  • Change of position in the socket

Similarly, orbital tumors often present with bulging or a flattened eyeball, numbness or tingling around the eye, changes in vision, pain in the eye area, and a swollen or drooping eyelid. 

Since eye and orbital cancer are rare, the symptoms often go unnoticed until the later stages of the disease. Unfortunately, if the condition advances, it may spread to other parts of the body and be more challenging to treat successfully. This is why eligible responders and survivors should enroll in the WTC Health Program for health monitoring and treatment. Although there are no specific screening procedures for eye cancer, melanomas of the eye can sometimes be found during a routine eye exam.  

There are various treatments for eye cancer, such as surgery, radiation therapy, laser therapy, chemotherapy, immunotherapy, and targeted drugs. The type of treatment used can depend on the size of the tumor and whether the cancer has metastasized. A doctor can best explain your options based on the circumstances of your diagnosis.     

VCF Compensation for 9/11 Eye and Orbit Cancer

Eye cancer can drastically affect your quality of life and your ability to earn a living. If you are a 9/11 responder or survivor who satisfies the VCF’s presence criteria, you may be eligible to receive monetary recovery for your economic losses and the pain and suffering you experienced as a result of your eye or orbit cancer. 

Specifically, the VCF provides compensation for lost earnings, loss of benefits, replacement services loss, and the out-of-pocket expenses you incurred in connection with your medical treatment. The VCF will also award up to $250,000 for the non-economic losses you suffered due to a cancer diagnosis. However, the amount issued is based on the severity of your condition, not the number of conditions you have.

To receive a VCF award for 9/11 eye or orbit cancer — or any other 9/11-related health disease — the condition must first be certified by the WTC Health Program. Additionally, families who have lost loved ones due to a 9/11-related health condition may also be able to recover compensation by filing a wrongful death claim with the VCF.

Contact a New York City 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund Attorney

If you developed 9/11 eye or orbit cancer, you may be entitled to receive an award from the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund for your economic and non-economic losses. But the process of registering with the VCF and filing a claim is often confusing and overwhelming. It’s best to have the guidance of a knowledgeable 9/11 VCF attorney who can help you secure the maximum compensation you deserve.

The 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund attorneys at The Dearie Law Firm, P.C. have represented claimants and their families in 9/11 VCF claims for more than a decade. For a free consultation, contact us today.


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