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Tumors of the Orbit

By James Garrity, MD, Whitney and Betty MacMillan Professor of Ophthalmology, Mayo Clinic College of Medicine

Rarely, tumors, either cancerous (malignant) or noncancerous (benign), occur in the tissues behind the eye.

Tumors can form within the tissues behind the eye, or cancerous tumors from elsewhere in the body can spread (metastasize) to these tissues.

These tumors can push the eye forward and cause it to bulge abnormally (a finding called proptosis). Pain, double vision, droopy eyelid, and vision loss may also occur.

Computed tomography (CT), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), or both are done to obtain an image of the tumor and exclude other abnormalities. Usually, a sample taken for examination under a microscope (biopsy) is needed to determine what type of tumor is present, and treatment depends on these results.

Treatment may include surgical removal, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, or a combination.