The eye is protected by a bony structure called the orbit. Growths, called tumors, lesions or masses, can occur in the tissues of the orbit behind the eye. Usually these growths are noncancerous, but they can cause the eye to bulge out slightly. Signs and symptoms suggesting an orbital tumor, lesion or mass include protrusion of the eyeball (proptosis), loss of vision, double vision, redness, pain or eyelid swelling. Sometimes an early sign is a droopy eyelid. Orbital tumors in children are usually benign, but any abnormal growth should be checked. Causes of orbital tumors include developmental abnormalities as well as a variety of overgrowth conditions in the blood vessels or surrounding tissues (e.g., hemangioma, lymphangioma). Malignancies in adults typically are lymphomas or the results of metastasis from cancers elsewhere in the body.
To determine whether an orbital tumor exists, doctors use the MRI or CAT scan. Some orbital tumors are benign and not troublesome, so they are not treated until a concerning change occurs. Doctors treat orbital tumors in a number of ways, sometimes noninvasively using medicines or radiation therapy. Some tumors need to be removed by an oculoplastic surgeon. Typically such surgery is performed with general anesthesia but with the patient returning home the same day. Bandaged after surgery and receiving some icing for the first few days, the eye typically will fully heal and the swelling and bruising will resolve in about 10 days.