Penn Medicine’s Ocular Oncology Program offers comprehensive diagnosis and treatment for ocular tumors (tumors of the eye or surrounding areas), including the eyelid, eyebrow, eye socket and tear ducts.

Our specialists at Penn's Scheie Eye Institute are leading researchers in their respective areas of focus. We are dedicated to developing new ways to treat some of the most difficult diseases of the eye, including retinoblastoma, ocular melanoma, conjunctival malignancies, ocular metastases, and ocular and CNS lymphoma.

Eye cancer or tumors of the eye or surrounding areas, are caused by abnormal cells that have begun to divide or spread among the delicate bones, tissue, nerves, muscles and arteries around the eye. An accurate diagnosis and expertise in understanding how to treat ocular cancer is key to receiving the best possible outcome.

Symptoms of eye cancer include:

  • Bulging eyes
  • Change in iris color
  • Poor vision in one eye
  • Red, painful eye
  • Small defect on the iris or conjunctiva

Eye Cancer Diagnosis

An accurate diagnosis is key to creating the best possible treatment plan for tumors of the eye. An eye examination and clinical evaluation will be performed to assess where the growth or appearance of the tumor may have changed over time or has begun to affect surrounding areas of the eye. These changes may lead to different tests or procedures.

An examination of the eye may reveal a round or oval lump that can be seen with the following diagnostic tests:

  • Cranial CT scan/MRI of the head to see if the growth has spread to the brain
  • Eye ultrasound: two types of scans to see behind the eye or in less visible areas
  • Skin biopsy if the affected area is on the skin

Eye Cancer Treatment

If a tumor requires aggressive treatment, one or more of the following therapies may be needed:

  • Brachytherapy
  • Lasers
  • Radiation therapy

In some cases, surgical removal of the eye (enucleation) may be needed. Chemotherapy or biological therapy (interferon) are considered less effective treatments for melanoma of the eye.

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Treatment Team

Penn ocular oncologists provide comprehensive diagnosis and treatment for the full spectrum of eye cancers.

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