Tumors are abnormal tissue growths. They can be malignant (in which case they are usually metastasizing) or benign (in which case they stay localized).
Eye tumors are rare, generally malignant, and usually painless.
Malignant eye melanoma
This tumor resembles one type of skin cancer. It occurs mainly on the choroid (a layer of blood vessels beneath the retina) or on the ciliary body (front extension of the choroid). Sometimes, it can appear on the retina. Only one eye is affected.
More than half of all cases are detected during the routine eye examination. In other cases, the patients themselves come to the doctor, complaining about the gradual loss of vision in the affected eye. The doctor will refer the patient to the diagnostic angiography; this will reveal the nature of the tumor.
In younger adults, the diseased eye is removed in order to prevent the spreading of tumor to other parts of the body. In older people, where the tumor grows very slowly and does not cause the loss of vision, it is usually considered to be best not to touch the affected eye; the eye will be removed only if the tumor increases significantly.
Secondary eye tumors
In some types of cancer, secondary tumors are spread (metastasizing by blood or by lymphatic system from the primary tumor, e.g., breast or lung cancer) and affect other parts of the body. Secondary eye tumors dervelop in the late stages of such cancer. If they grow on the back of the eyeball, tey can cause exophthalmos. They all affect the vision, but not in the same way – it depends on the position of the tumor in the eye and the rate of growth.
Secondary eye tumors may sometime be destroyed by radiotherapy, but in some cases it does not work.
Retinoblastoma is a malignant retinal tumor that occurs in one or both eyes, especially in children under 5 years of age. The child will not complain about symptoms. If the direct vision of only one eye is affected, the child may squint – that is why physician must examine all cases of squint. If the tumor is not detected in the initial stage, it can be seen through the pupil as a white spot inside the eye. This disease is often hereditary. If there are cases of retinoblastoma in your family, it would be advisable to ask your doctor for advice before you decide to have a baby; if you already have a baby, you must tell your doctor about the retinoblastoma in your family and regularly take your baby to eye examinations. If the tumor is detected in the initial stage, a treatment with radiotherapy will be very effective. If the tumor is advanced, the eye will have to be removed in order to prevent secondary tumors that spread to other parts of the body and bring the life of the child into jeopardy.