Eye Cancer

Eye Cancer

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Duke’s eye cancer specialists use the latest medical and surgical advances to detect and treat all types of eye cancer and noncancerous tumors and growths in and around the eye. Our eye cancer experts work with specialists throughout Duke Health to create a treatment plan that meets your individual needs, improves your health, restores your appearance, and minimizes your vision loss.

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Comprehensive Eye Cancer Care

About Eye Cancer
When eye cancer develops in and around the eye, it requires the knowledge and experience of specialists who can treat your cancer and save your life, save the involved eye, and preserve your vision. There are many types of eye cancers, including melanoma of the eye, lymphoma of the eye, and tumors that spread to the eye from other organs. There are also benign eye tumors that grow on the eyelid ot within the wall of the eye (choroidal nevi), and abnormal overgrowths of blood vessels surrounding or inside the eye (hemangiomas).

Each condition benefits from the skill of Duke’s eye cancer team, which includes experts in retinal surgery, corneal surgery, oculoplastics-reconstructive surgery, and medical, surgical, and radiation oncology.

Our Locations

Duke Health offers locations throughout the Triangle. Find one near you.

Treatments

Your doctor will develop a treatment plan for your eye cancer based on the type of cancer, the size of the tumor, and the stage of your condition.

Chemotherapy

Drugs that kill cancer cells may be injected directly into the eye or the veins, or taken by mouth.

Radiation Therapy

High-energy X-rays target cancer cells and halt or slow their growth. We use dose-modulation techniques to limit the complications of radiation therapy in the eye. 

Plaque Brachytherapy

 A radiation source is placed directly onto the eye to reduce exposure to the rest of the body. This treatment is highly effective in treating malignant eye cancers, avoiding radiation exposure to the brain or other organs.  

External Beam Radiation Therapy

Treats wider areas in and around the eyeball and face.

Laser Therapy

Highly focused beams of light destroy abnormal cells in the eyes. Two types include:

  • Transpupillary thermotherapy: When melanoma of the eye is present, an infrared light may be used to kill the tumor.
  • Laser photocoagulation: May be used to treat side effects of eye cancer treatments.

Cryosurgery

Liquid nitrogen freezes and kills tumor cells to stop cancer growth.    

Eye-Preserving Surgery

Removes part of the eye affected by tumor growth. 

Enucleation

In some cases, it may be necessary to remove the entire eye. Reconstructive surgery to preserve function and appearance may be necessary.

Vitrectomy

A type of retinal surgery to treat damage, such as bleeding or retinal detachment, caused by eye cancer or treatments for eye cancers. The procedure involves removing diseased scar tissue from the middle of the eye (the vitreous gel) to restore or improve sight. Using this advanced surgical technique, our eye cancer surgeons can help obtain small sample biopsies and treat complications of radiation treatment. 

Medication Management

Medications that block the creation of abnormal cells in the eye, or help limit the side effects of treatment and maintain vision, may also be prescribed.

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Tests

Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT)

A computer-guided imaging device creates a 3-D map of the optic nerve and the macula of the retina. It is used to detect the earliest signs of eye cancer and to monitor for changes or side effects following treatment. It gives a microscopic view of the retina. 

Fluorescein Angiography

After a dye is injected into your arm, a specialized camera is used to captures images that can help identify new or leaking blood vessels in your eye.

High-Resolution Ultrasound

Noninvasive sound waves travel through closed eyelids. They bounce off your retina and other parts of your eye to create images that help your doctor determine the size and location of tumors.

Biopsy

Your doctor takes a tissue sample of the suspicious growth inside your eye to determine whether cancer is present. This procedure is performed in the operating room while you are under sedation.

Imaging Scans

MRI, CT, and PET scans may be performed to determine where metastatic eye tumors originated, or whether your eye cancer has spread to other parts of your body.

Best Eye Hospital in NC

When it comes to your care, you want the very best. Duke University Hospital is ranked sixth in the nation and the best in North Carolina for ophthalmology.

Why Choose Duke

High Level of Expertise
As a National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center, we offer a level of expertise found only in the top cancer centers across the country. We use the most advanced imaging, testing, and biopsy techniques to determine whether you have eye cancer and, if so, its stage, type, and best treatment options. We strive to catch your condition early, preserve your vision, maintain your eye’s function, and improve your quality of life.

A Team Approach
Our eye cancer specialists work closely with ocular pathologists, oculoplastic surgeons, and medical and radiation cancer specialists. Offering this team of experts in one convenient location eases your anxiety and stress. We work together to develop a personalized treatment plan that addresses your needs.

Low Vision Rehabilitation
If you have vision loss related to your eye cancer, we thoroughly evaluate your needs and give you the tools and knowledge to optimize your visual function and maximize your quality of life.

Research Advances
Our eye cancer specialists are involved in research aimed at improving imaging techniques used to detect eye cancers earlier, as well as ways to prevent the complications associated with radiation therapy in ocular melanoma.

A Caring Environment
You will have access to the many support services offered by the Duke Cancer Center to help you and your family understand treatment options, manage the side effects of treatment, and cope with the emotional effects of diagnosis and treatment. Our clinical social worker is available to help you cope with the emotional and psychological stress of vision loss and with other medical or environmental concerns.

Patient Resources