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Bascom Palmer Eye Institute

Orbital Tumors

Tumors and inflammation can occur in the tissues around the eye and may be benign or malignant. These tumors often push the eye forward, causing a bulging of the eye (proptosis). The most common causes of proptosis in adults are thyroid eye disease and inflammatory pseudotumor; both are benign. Other benign tumors include hemangiomas and lymphangiomas. Tumors of the lacrimal gland also cause bulging of the eye. Tumors may be benign or malignant. Growths (benign and malignant) that extend from the sinuses into the orbit may also cause proptosis. CT scans, MRI’s help in determining the probable diagnosis. At times, a biopsy is performed as well.

Treatment of orbital tumors includes medication, surgery and/or radiation. When functionally indicated and appropriate, orbital tumors are removed. If they cannot be removed or if removal will cause too much damage to other important structures around the eye, a piece of tumor may be removed and sent for evaluation. If a tumor cannot be removed during surgery, it is sometimes treated with external beam radiation therapy or chemotherapy. Certain rare orbital tumors may require removal of the eye and the orbital contents (exenteration). In certain cases, orbital radiotherapy may be used to treat residual tumor.