Overview

What Are Ophthalmic Tumors?

Ophthalmic and optical surface tumors are benign (noncancerous) or cancerous growths that develop in or around the eyes. All ophthalmic tumors should be treated, as even benign tumors can impair vision, cause disfigurement, or spread to the optic nerve, brain and other parts of the body.

The most common tumors of the eye are retinoblastoma (cancer of the retina) in children and malignant melanoma in adults, usually occurring after age 60. Both types are relatively rare, with retinoblastoma affecting just 500 to 600 children each year, and malignant melanoma found in just 1,500 to 2,000 adults each year.

Other ophthalmic tumors include:
  • Dermoid cysts: Fluid- and tissue-filled sacs
  • Hemangiomas: Overgrowth of tangled blood vessels
  • Rhabdomyosarcoma: Cancerous tumor in the eye’s muscle or connective tissue
  • Eyelid tumors: Benign and malignant tumors on the edge or in the eyelid, including skin cancers
  • Conjunctival tumors: Benign and malignant tumors on the outer surface of the eyeball
  • Iris tumors: Tumors that grow on the colored part of the eye, often melanoma
  • Choroid tumors: Benign and malignant tumors among the vessels that supply blood to the retina
  • Lacrimal gland tumors: Benign and malignant tumors on the glands that create tears
  • Intraocular lymphoma: Often non-Hodgkin lymphoma that begins in the eyeball