A tumor located in the eye orbit, which is the bony socket containing the eye, is called an orbital tumor. The orbital socket is a complex structure, which includes the eye along with nerves, muscles, and connective tissue. It is wide in the front and becomes narrow towards the back.
Even a very small tumor in this tiny, crowded space can create considerable symptoms and functional issues. A large orbital tumor will cause the eye to bulge forward, resulting in major vision problems.
Devoted oculoplastic surgeon Dr. Jennifer Hui provides eyelid surgery and other eye care procedures to patients in Palm Springs, Palm Desert, La Quinta, Coachella Valley, Riverside, Redlands, Yucaipa, Loma Linda, and other communities and towns in this section of SoCal.
Types of Orbital Tumors
An orbital tumor can be benign or malignant, and it could be primary or metastatic. A primary tumor means it originates in the orbit, while a metastatic tumor means the cancer has spread to another area in the body. Some of the orbital tumors occur more commonly in children, while some other types are typically diagnosed in adults.
The orbital tumor could be located anywhere in the orbit. The tumor may put pressure on nerves, muscles, and the eye itself. A common benign orbital tumor is the cavernous hemangioma. This primarily occurs in younger or middle-aged adults.
Fortunately, these tumors can be surgically removed and recurrence is rare once the tumor has been removed. In children, the orbital tumors are mostly benign. However, treatment is important in order to preserve vision. Some of the orbital tumors, such as rhabdomyosarcoma and retinoblastoma, can be life-threatening.
Advanced treatment options are available to address these malignancies. An orbital tumor may be one of the following:
- Meningioma: The tumor arises in the meninges, which is the protective covering around the brain and optic nerves.
- Schwannoma/neurofibroma: The tumor originates from the Schwann cells within the sheaths covering the nerves.
- Optic glioma: It develops in the glial cells, which are the brain’s supporting cells.
- Osteoma: The tumor develops in the bone.
- Hemangioma and lymphangioma: It arises in the vascular system.
- Sarcoma: The tumor arises from muscle or fatty tissue.
- Fibrous histiocytoma: This originates from embryonic cells and is commonly seen in children.
- Retinoblastoma: It is found more commonly in children.
Orbital tumors may sometimes occur when a cancer in another area of the body (such as lung, breast, or prostate) metastasizes or spreads to the orbit. Skin cancer such as melanoma could also spread to the orbit. Other orbital tumors may be primary, which develop in the orbital socket for unknown reasons.
Correct diagnosis is vital to the formulation of a treatment plan. The treatment may include traditional surgery, endovascular surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, or other medical interventions. Due to the delicate nature of the eye, only an experienced eye surgeon should any orbital tumor. Surgery may be necessary in some cases to remove the orbital tumor.