Fortunately orbital tumors are very rare. There are over 1500 different tumors that can affect the orbit. The majority of these tumors are benign. These tumors cause problems because of their location and proximity to vital structures and organs including: the eye, the muscles that move the eye, the lacrimal gland, the nerves and vessels of the orbit, the sinuses and the brain. Occasionally, a malignant tumor may involve the orbit primarily or through spread from an adjacent or distant tumor. These lesions not only cause problems because of their proximity to vital structures, but also the risk of spread to adjacent and distant organs.
Most tumors of the orbit cause symptoms including: protrusion of the eye, pain, double vision and redness. Many of these tumors require biopsy to determine the nature of the lesion and appropriate treatment. Surgery in this small space with many vital structures is very difficult and tedious.
Tumors are abnormal growths of tissue that can be either benign (non-cancerous) or malignant (cancerous). Tumors situated on the orbit, or eye socket, should be evaluated and treated as soon as possible. A cancerous tumor requires immediate medical attention.
Symptoms of an Orbital Tumor
A tumor can cause pain or damage to the eye, and include symptoms such as:
- Blocked tear ducts
- A partial loss of vision
- Double or blurry vision
- A swollen appearance
- Difficulty in closing the eye completely
- A change in the position or movement of the eye in the socket
- A change in the size of the pupil
- A change in the color of the iris
Diagnosis of an Orbital Tumor
After a thorough medical examination of the eyes, a series of diagnostic tests will be conducted to confirm the diagnosis of an orbital tumor. Some of these tests may include:
- Dilation of the eye
- Slit lamp examination
- CT scan
If an orbital tumor is found, a surgical biopsy, known as an orbitotomy, may be performed to determine if the tumor is benign or malignant.
Treatment of an Orbital Tumor
Depending upon the type of tumor, its size, and location, there are numerous treatment options available. In some cases, surgery will be recommended to fully remove the tumor. In other cases, it may be best treated with:
- Radiation or immunotherapy
- Laser therapy