Ocular Oncology

Understanding Ocular Oncology: A Patient’s Guide

Ocular oncology is the treatment of abnormal growths and tumors within the delicate structure of the eye. From the retina to the iris and choroid, these conditions present complex challenges that demand specialized care and attention.

At Retina Consultants of America, we recognize the gravity of ocular cancer and are committed to supporting those affected by these conditions. With a network of leading retina specialists and ocular oncologists, as well as a dedication to cutting-edge research and treatment, Retina Consultants of America offers hope and healing to those affected by ocular tumors. Specializing in comprehensive eye care, many of the practices in our network extend beyond retinal conditions, offering access to top ocular oncologists and other subspecialists, ensuring that your eye health is our top priority.

With a network of leading retina specialists and ocular oncologists, as well as a dedication to cutting-edge research and treatment, Retina Consultants of America offers hope and healing to those affected by ocular tumors.

Causes of Ocular Cancers

Ocular oncology refers to a range of conditions involving abnormal growths or tumors in the eye. These conditions affect various parts of the eye, including the retina, iris, choroid, and other structures.

The underlying causes of ocular oncology conditions vary, but they often involve genetic mutations or abnormalities in the cells of the eye. These mutations lead to uncontrolled growth and the formation of tumors. While the exact cause of ocular tumors may not always be clear, certain factors increase the risk of developing these conditions.

Risk Factors Associated with Ocular Cancers

  • Genetic Predisposition: People with a family history of ocular cancers may have an increased risk of developing these conditions. Genetic factors can play a significant role in predisposing individuals to certain types of ocular tumors.
  • Environmental Factors: Exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation, especially sunlight, is a known risk factor for ocular cancers such as melanoma of the eye. Prolonged exposure to UV rays without adequate eye protection increases the risk of developing these conditions.
  • Previous Ocular Trauma or Injury: Trauma or injury to the eye, particularly if it involves damage to the retina or other ocular structures, increases the risk of developing ocular tumors. Chronic inflammation or irritation of the eye may also contribute to the development of these conditions.

Types of Ocular Cancer

Ocular oncology encompasses a range of cancers affecting different parts of the eye. Understanding the various types of ocular tumors is essential for accurate diagnosis and effective treatment. At Retina Consultants of America, our team of top ocular oncologists is dedicated to providing comprehensive care for patients with ocular oncology conditions.

Uveal Melanoma

Uveal melanoma, the most common intraocular malignancy in adults, originates from melanocytes (cells in the eyes that produce and contain the pigment called melanin) in the uveal tract. Symptoms include blurred vision and changes in the iris or pupil appearance. Early detection is key to preventing metastasis and preserving vision.

Choroidal Nevus & Melanoma

Choroidal nevi, benign pigmented lesions in the eye's choroid layer, can transform into choroidal melanoma. Regular eye exams are crucial for early detection of malignancy.

Congenital Hypertrophy of the Retinal Pigment Epithelium (CHRPE)

CHRPE, a benign condition with flat pigmented lesions on the retina, may be associated with genetic syndromes like Familial Adenomatous Polyposis (FAP). FAP is a hereditary condition characterized by the development of numerous polyps in the colon and rectum, which significantly increases the risk of colorectal cancer.

Iris Nevi & Tumors

Iris nevi, pigmented lesions on the iris, can occasionally indicate malignancy. Symptoms include changes in size, shape, or pigmentation, requiring prompt evaluation by an eye specialist.


Retinoblastoma, a rare malignant tumor affecting children, demands early detection and treatment to preserve vision. Management involves chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery in a multidisciplinary approach.

Treatment Approaches for Ocular Cancers

Treatment strategies for ocular cancers aim to eradicate tumors while preserving vision and ocular function whenever possible. The choice of treatment depends on various factors, including the type and stage of the cancer, as well as the patient's overall health and treatment goals.

Unlike systemic cancers, chemotherapy is not typically the primary treatment modality for ocular cancers. Ocular tumors are often managed using localized treatment approaches that target the tumor while minimizing damage to surrounding healthy tissue.

  • Radiation Therapy: Radiation therapy involves the use of high-energy beams to destroy cancer cells and shrink tumors. External beam radiation and plaque brachytherapy (surgically implanting a small radioactive device onto the outer surface of the eye near the tumor) are common radiation techniques used to treat ocular tumors. Radiation therapy may be used alone or in combination with other treatment modalities, such as surgery.
  • Surgical Interventions: Surgical removal of ocular tumors may be necessary for larger or more aggressive tumors. Depending on the location and size of the tumor, surgical techniques may include tumor resection, enucleation (removal of the entire eye), or local excision. Minimally invasive surgical approaches aim to preserve ocular function and appearance whenever possible.
  • Laser Therapy: Laser therapy, such as photocoagulation or transpupillary thermotherapy (TTT), may be used to treat small ocular tumors or manage complications such as retinal detachment or neovascularization. Laser therapy targets the tumor or abnormal blood vessels with precision, minimizing damage to surrounding healthy tissue.

Importance of Early Detection and Treatment

Detecting ocular oncology conditions early is vital for better outcomes. Routine eye exams, including dilated fundus exams and imaging studies, are crucial for spotting abnormalities or suspicious lesions. When ocular oncologists can identify tumors in their early stages, patients have the best chance of preserving vision and preventing complications. Individuals at higher risk, such as those with a family history of ocular cancers or prolonged sun exposure, should undergo regular screenings as part of their eye care regimen.

Find a Top Ocular Oncologist Near You

Retina Consultants of America stands as a beacon of hope and expertise in the challenging landscape of ocular oncology, offering comprehensive services, advanced treatments, and unwavering support for individuals confronting ocular tumors. Our team of experienced physicians, renowned specialists, and compassionate staff is dedicated to providing personalized care, innovative interventions, and holistic support to help patients navigate the complexities of ocular cancers. To learn more about ocular oncology and retinal care, or to schedule an appointment with one of the best ocular oncologists in the world, reach out to Retina Consultants of America today.

Find an Ocular Oncologist Near You