Tumors in the eye usually are secondary tumors caused by cancers that have spread from other parts of the body, generally from the breast, lung, bowel or prostate. Two types of primary tumors arise within the eye itself and are known as retinoblastoma in children and melanoma in adults.
Retinoblastoma is a cancer of the retina, the eye’s light-sensitive tissue. This most common childhood eye cancer usually strikes children under age five, affecting 500 to 600 in the United States each year. In nearly a third of the cases, retinoblastoma occurs in both eyes. While symptoms are not evident early in the disease, increasing pain and vision loss eventually signal the problem. Malignant melanoma occurs most frequently in adults 60 to 65 years of age, arising from uncontrolled growth of cells called melanocytes. From 1,500 to 2,000 new cases are diagnosed annually in the United States.
Wagner Kapoor Institute specializes in treating eye tumors, relying on a variety of options depending on the diagnosis, size and aggressiveness of the tumor, and other factors. Certain small tumors may respond to cryosurgery (laser treatment or freezing). In some cases, it is possible to remove a tumor surgically, preserving our patients’ vision. Radiation therapy is often an option for eye tumors. If the eye cancer is advanced and must be treated aggressively or removed, Dr Wagner may opt to perform reconstructive eye surgery. Today’s artificial eyes or implants move almost normally and are virtually indistinguishable from natural eyes, although, of course, they do not see.