What are Eye Tumors?

Harriette Halepis

Eye tumors have many shapes and take many different forms. These tumors can be metastatic or primary, depending upon the type of tumor at hand. Metastatic tumors are those that reach the eye through another cancerous organ, such as breast cancer, while primary tumors are only located within the eye. There are various types of eye tumors ranging from those that are non-threatening to those that are serious.

Invasive eye surgery or other surgical options are often considered when a patient has an eye tumor.
Invasive eye surgery or other surgical options are often considered when a patient has an eye tumor.

Basal cell carcinoma tumors surround the eye, though they rarely affect the actual eyeball. Likewise, squamous carcinoma, sebaceous carcinoma and malignant melanomas solely affect the eyelid area. Uveal melanomas are the most prevalent type of eye tumors found in adults, and these tumors do affect the ocular area. Frequently, the result of a uveal melanoma tumor is vision impairment. Children generally suffer from retinoblastoma, which is a type of tumor that inhibits eyesight.

An optometrist examines a patient's eyes.
An optometrist examines a patient's eyes.

Eye cancer can be detected in a number of ways, though these indicators may not be apparent to an untrained person. Double vision, blurred vision, decreased vision, and vision loss are all symptoms of melanomas. Most people do not begin to feel any symptoms at all until the tumor has had time to grow. Those who are diagnosed with choroidal, ciliary body and uveal cancer only find out about their illness once an optometrist has detected an abnormality.

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Laser eye surgery may be used to address eye tumors.
Laser eye surgery may be used to address eye tumors.

Small spots inside of the eye are referred to as nevus spots. These spots are usually benign, though they should be monitored on a regular basis by a licensed optometrist. Conjuctival and iris tumors appear as dark spots within the ocular area. These tumors can spread quickly, which is why constant monitoring and medical attention should take place.

There are various treatments available in order to eliminate eye tumors. Laser eye surgery, invasive surgery, and other surgical techniques are often used to stop cancer cell growth. However, the best way to prevent any eye tumor from growing is to ensure early detection. This can be done with a regular visit to an optometrist. Keep in mind that not all eye tumors can be detected with the naked eye, and eye cancer symptoms may not show up right away.

Removing eye tumors is often a complex process that involves many different medical experts. In addition to a ophthalmologist, a medical oncologist, cosmetic surgeon, head and neck specialist, and other medical professionals are often involved in the removal of a tumor. If tumors are detected early enough, a team of surgeons can eradicate a tumor for good.

A diagram of a human eye.
A diagram of a human eye.

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Discussion Comments


@OhDeDoh- I am sorry to hear about your dad’s condition. I hope he stays happy and healthy. I know it isn’t quite the same, but we had a dog that had a tumor in her eye. Canine eye tumors are usually benign. Hers was benign, thankfully. We got lucky. She didn’t have to have any surgery. She lived a long life, (especially in dog years).

From what I read, some of the procedures for treating tumors in a dog's eye are similar to treatment for humans. That made sense to me. Humans and ‘fur people’ like dogs have similar eye structures.


My dad has a tumor in his iris. It is very visible to the naked eye. It takes up a small part of the bottom of his iris.

For him, the eye tumor symptoms include obstructed vision. If he bends over and strains to lift something, he usually bursts a blood vessel in the tumor. This is because there are so many nerves in the mass. When a vessel bursts, it actually causes a small amount of blood to pool in the bottom of his iris.

His is a form of carcinoma. He has light colored eyes. His doctor told him those kinds of tumors are more prevalent in people with fair skin and eyes. Fortunately, his type of cancer has a very low rate of spreading.

He has been holding off on surgery because it is almost guaranteed to mess up his vision. Since the iris is a muscle, removing the tumor could result in permanent split acting like a misshapen pupil. We are basically just waiting it out and seeing if the tumor grows any more.

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