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Patient Information

The ocular oncology service generally treats cancer inside the structures of the eye. This can involve the back part of the eye, involving the retina and it’s supporting structures, or the front part of the eye, where the iris and cornea are located. Tumors of the eyelids and the orbital structures behind the eye are addressed by our oculofacial plastics and orbital team. Types of intraocular cancers and benign tumors we treat include:

  • Choroidal hemangioma
  • Choroidal nevi
  • Conjunctival melanomas
  • Hemangioma
  • Intraocular lymphoma
  • Intraocular melanoma
  • Metastases to the eyes of other cancers (such as breast cancer)
  • Retinoblastoma

Causes and risk factors for eye tumors and cancers

  • Environmental exposure, such as sunlight or occupational welding
  • Aging
  • Chance events
  • Choroidal nevi
  • Light skin color and/or light eye color
  • Family history

Diagnosing eye cancer

Many times, an examination by an ophthalmologist or optometrist is all that is needed to diagnose eye cancer. However, to determine the severity of the malignancy (staging) and development a treatment plan -- and to follow treatment progress -- the following are often used:

  • CT or CAT (computed axial tomography) scans
  • Dilated retinal exam
  • Fluorescein angiography
  • Genetic testing of melanoma and retinoblastoma tumor tissue
  • Genetic testing of blood
  • MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) scans
  • Optical coherence tomography (OCT)
  • OCT angiography
  • Photography
  • Surgical biopsy (rarely)
  • Ultrasound of the eye

Ocular cancer treatment

After confirming a diagnosis, Dr. Khetan assembles each patient’s care team, developing a customized treatment plan. In nearly every case, the primary goal is to eradicate the tumor. Significant emphasis is also placed on preserving as much vision as possible followed by cosmetic considerations. With the most advanced therapies available, outcomes have never been better. Treatment may involve:

  • Brachy therapy (localized internal radiation)
  • Chemotherapy
  • Cryotherapy
  • Laser treatment
  • Surgical excision
  • Targeted external beam radiation

Symptoms and signs of eye cancer

  • An unusual dark spot on the eye, including the colored part of the eye (called the iris)
  • An eye with a cloudy pupil (vs. a red reflex)
  • Vision problems, including blurry vision or loss of vision
  • Seeing floaters (spots, floating objects or squiggly lines)
  • Seeing flashes of light or shadows
  • Change in the size or shape of the pupil (the black-looking round opening in the center of the iris)
  • Change in the position of the eye in the eye socket (orbit)
  • Bulging of the eye
  • A change to eye movement or position of the eye in the eye socket
  • A lump on the surface of the eye
  • Eye redness or irritation that doesn’t go away