Orbital Tumors

What Are Orbital Tumors?

An orbital tumor is any tumor that is found in the orbit — the bony socket area that surrounds and contains the eye. Although small in size, the orbit is very complex and contains muscles, nerves, blood vessels, and connective tissue all related to the eye and vision. Even minuscule tumors in this area can cause a number of symptoms in regards to the eye’s overall functionality. Large tumors present even more issues, and may also cause the eye to bulge outward (proptosis) and result in significant vision problems. In other cases, the tumor may prevent the eyelids from closing, causing the breakdown of the cornea.

Orbital tumors are either benign or malignant, with some originating in or near the eye itself and others occurring as the result of a lesion spreading from other parts of the body such as the sinuses or brain. Treatment and removal of these tumors can be accomplished with surgery, chemotherapy, and/or radiotherapy.

Symptoms of Orbital Tumors

Symptoms of an orbital tumor can include the following:


  • Bulging of the Eyeball
  • Numbness or abnormal sensations
  • around the eye
  • Double Vision (Diplopia)
  • Vision Loss
  • Pain Around the Eye
  • Swelling
  • Drooping Eyelids

What Causes Orbital Tumors?

Orbital tumors may grow from anatomical irregularities present at birth (congenital issues) or from the transformation of normal orbital tissues. Additionally, tumors may arise in the orbit after spreading from a remote site such as the breast, lung, or prostate, or extend from adjacent areas such as the sinuses or brain.

How Are Orbital Tumors Diagnosed?

Tumor diagnosis begins with a careful clinical evaluation in the office. Some common orbital tumor symptoms may actually be caused by separate disorders or problems such as pre-existing trauma, sinus disease, or neurological issues. If the extent of an orbital lesion is easily felt or palpated, a diagnosis is established via surgery to obtain tissue for examination. In other cases, a computed tomography (CT) or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan may be necessary to further evaluate the orbit in detail. Scans help to see parts of the orbit that are not easy, or are impossible, to examine in the office setting.

What Are the Treatment Options for Orbital Tumors?

Orbital tumors are often removed with surgery. However, if the removal risks damage to the eye or surrounding structures, radiation or chemotherapy may be required instead of or in conjunction with surgery. Larger tumors involving the brain or sinuses may require more extensive surgery in collaboration with additional neurosurgeons or sinus surgeons. After a tumor is removed, reconstructive surgery may be required to re-establish the proper structure of the orbital area and/or functioning of the eye.

In rare cases, the eye may need to be removed through enucleation or the entire orbital contents, including the globe and soft tissue, may need to be fully removed through a surgical process called exenteration.

Orbital Tumor Treatment at the Dean McGee Eye Institute

Orbital tumors are a serious condition that require expert diagnosis and treatment, which is precisely why the oculoplastic surgeons at the nationally-ranked Dean McGee Eye Institute should be your top choice for care. If you or a loved one may be dealing with possible orbital tumor symptoms, please call 405.271.1096 or 800.787.9018 as soon as possible to make an appointment. Our team would be honored to provide the effective care you need.

Patient Testimonials

We finally found out exactly what type of tumor was behind my eye, thanks to Dr. Brian Firestone and his group of staff. Treatment will be next month and I couldn’t be any happier to know exactly what’s going on and how they plan on helping. Thank you for the excellent service and welcoming staff!

Jenna H.