TUMOURS OF THE EYE

A wide variety of tumors (masses) are encountered in the orbit. They can arise from orbital structures like bone, muscles, soft tissues, blood vessels and nerves or from the eyeball itself. They can also invade orbit from surrounding areas like nose, sinuses, and brain. They are seen in all ages and sexes and are mostly benign.

HOW ARE ORBITAL TUMOURS DIAGNOSED?

Displacement of the eyeball forward should arouse suspicion of a mass behind it. Other symptoms to watch out for are:

Pain, Loss of Vision, Double Vision, Restriction of Eye Movements and a mass which is seen or felt.

In many instances additional tests like CT Scan or MRI is required to confirm the diagnosis.

TUMOURS IN CHILDREN

Tumours in children are usually the result of developmental abnormalities. The most common types of benign tumours in children are:

  • Dermoids: cysts in the lining of the bone

  • Haemangiomas: tumours of the blood vessels

Malignant tumours are unusual in children but any rapidly growing mass is a cause for concern.

TUMOURS IN ADULT

Benign tumours in adults are:

  • Haemangioma: blood vessel tumour

  • Lymphangioma: lymphatic vessel tumour

  • Arteriovenous malformation: a tangled mass of arteries and veins

  • Schwannoma: nerve cell tumour

  • Lipoma: fatty tumour

  • Mucocele: tumour in the sinuses

Of these tumours, the most common are the blood vessel tumours.

The most common malignant orbital tumours in adults are lymphomas (lymph gland cancers). These are often confined to the orbit and do not spread to other parts of the body. Cancers from other organs, such as the breast and prostate gland, can also spread to the orbit. Other malignancies arising from the tissues surrounding the orbit are less common.

TREATMENT OF ORBITAL TUMOURS

Surgery, radiotherapy or other treatment may be undertaken, depending on the type of tumour.

NYSTAGMUS

Nystagmus appears as an involuntary constant movement of the eyes. The eyes appear to ‘dance’, ‘shake’ or ‘jump’ around. Nystagmus usually means that there is a problem with the eyes or the brain. It may be present at birth or shortly after (congenital) or it may occur later in life (acquired).

CONGENITAL NYSTAGMUS

Two types are seen:

  • Nystagmus due to poor vision is noticed typically between two and four months of age. Generally, the worse the vision, the more movement of the eyes. Possible reasons why a baby may have poor vision are cataract, albinism, optic nerve abnormalities and disorders of the retina. It is important that children with nystagmus be examined by an ophthalmologist to see if the underlying cause can be treated.

  • Nystagmus due to eye muscle problems is present at birth or soon after. It occurs when the normal balance of eye movements is disrupted. People with this kind of nystagmus may turn their heads or cross their eyes to slow the nystagmus, thus improving their vision.

ACQUIRED NYSTAGMUS

Older children or adults may develop nystagmus for various reasons including neurological disease, head injury, inner ear disease and stroke.

TREATMENT OF NYSTAGMUS

Nystagmus due to poor vision does not usually improve even if the vision can be corrected. Treatment options for other types of nystagmus depend on the cause of the problem.