What Are Ocular and Orbital Tumors?

Ocular tumors are tumors associated with the eye. They are collections of cells that grow and multiply abnormally and form masses. They can be benign (noncancerous) or malignant (cancerous).They can be metastatic, meaning they spread from another part of the body.

An orbital tumor refers to any tumor located in the orbit, which is the bony socket in the front of the skull that contains the eye.These tumors may also be either benign or malignant, and may arise primarily from the orbit or may metastasize from elsewhere in the body.

Types of Ocular and Orbital Tumors

For ocular tumors in adults, the most common type is metastatic, usually spreading from the lung, breast, or prostate.  Another common type of ocular tumor is malignant melanoma.  They can start as a small mole or birthmark in the eye called a choroidal nevus.  These are usually found during routine eye exams and should be closely monitored for growth by your retina specialist.

An orbital tumor can be any one of several different tumor types, including:

  • Meningiomas – Tumors that arise in the meninges, the protective covering that surrounds the brain and optic nerves.
  • Schwannomas/neurofibromas – Arise from the Schwann cells in the sheaths that cover nerves.
  • Optic gliomas – Arise from glial cells, the supporting cells in the brain.
  • Osteomas – Develop in the bone.
  • Hemangiomas and lymphangiomas – Tumors that develop in the vascular system.
  • Sarcomas – Arise from fatty tissue or muscle.


Ocular and Orbital Tumor Symptoms and Diagnosis

The main symptoms of ocular tumors are flashes of light, distortion or loss of vision, and floating objects (floaters) in the vision.  The main symptoms for orbital tumors are pain or pressure in the eye socket, double vision (diplopia) or vision loss, and bulging or protrusion of the eyeball (proptosis).

As with most tumors located in and around the skull, imaging studies are essential to the diagnosis of tumors of the orbital area.  Both magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and computed tomography (CT) scans can be used.  A biopsy may also be conducted so the tumor tissue can be examined under a microscope to provide a definitive diagnosis.

CyberKnife® Treatment for Ocular and Orbital Tumors

Surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy are the treatment standard for ocular and orbital tumors. The most common types of treatment for ocular tumors are radiation or chemotherapy because each treatment can be very effective at eliminating a malignant ocular tumor noninvasively.  When possible, surgery is often the most common treatment to remove orbital tumors. If an orbital tumor cannot be removed with surgery due to its location, or if removal will cause too much damage to other important structures around the eye, orbital tumors can be treated with external beam radiation therapy.

At Austin CyberKnife, we treat ocular and orbital tumors with the CyberKnife Radiosurgery System®.  CyberKnife painlessly delivers precise beams of radiation to ocular and orbital tumors without requiring incisions, hospitalization, or a long recovery time.  The CyberKnife System is capable of delivering high doses of radiation to tumors or lesions, with minimal exposure to healthy tissue located in sensitive structures in and around the skull, and is the only radiosurgery system that doesn’t need an invasive head frame.  Ocular and orbital tumors can be difficult to treat due to their close proximity to important facial structures, facial nerves, and the brain.  Due to its ability to deliver precise beams of radiation with pinpoint accuracy, the CyberKnife provides an effective treatment to patients diagnosed with ocular or orbital tumors.

Key Advantages of CyberKnife for Ocular and Orbital Tumors
  • Outpatient procedure, no anesthesia or hospitalization required
  • Noninvasive, no incisions needed
  • Typically pain-free treatment
  • Reaches ocular and orbital tumors from virtually unlimited directions with robotic mobility
  • Targets individual ocular and orbital tumors with pinpoint accuracy
  • Enables clinicians to maximize and conform the dose to the ocular or orbital tumor
  • Constantly corrects for patient/tumor movement throughout treatment, ensuring radiation beams are always locked on the tumor during treatment
  • Minimal radiation exposure to healthy tissue surrounding the tumor
  • Little to no recovery time and almost immediate return to your normal daily activities
  • Minimal, if any, side effects due to pinpoint precision of high-dose radiation delivery 
Speak with one of our dedicated Austin CyberKnife team members about how we can help.