Treatment & Procedures

Once eye cancer has been diagnosed and staged, your doctor may recommend surgery, radiation therapy, laser therapy, or chemotherapy.
Surgery for Eye Cancer
Surgery is the most common treatment for intraocular melanoma.  Your physician may recommend one of the following:

  • Iridectomy, the removal of part of the iris (the colored part of the eye)
  • Iridocyclectomy, the removal of part of the iris and ciliary body (the ring of tissue around the lens)
  • Sclerouvectomy/endoresection, the removal of a choroidal tumor (a tumor in the choroid, the eye’s vascular layer)
  • Enucleation, the removal of the eye and part of the optic nerve. This is used primarily in severe cases in which the vision cannot be saved. After the surgery, you may be fitted for an artificial eye.
  • Exenteration, the removal of the eye and eyelid, along with the muscles, nerves and fat in the eye socket. This is used primarily in severe cases in which the vision cannot be saved. Most patients are fitted for an artificial eye or facial prosthesis after exenteration.

Learn more about surgery, including the roles that different surgical approaches have in preventing, diagnosing and treating cancer.

Radiation Therapy for Eye Cancer

Radiation therapy uses high-energy rays to kill cancer cells in a targeted area. Some radiation treatments for eye cancer are external, which means they are delivered by a machine outside the body. Other radiation treatments are internal, which means they are delivered through a radioactive substance sealed in disks, needles, seeds, wires or catheters placed directly into or near the cancer. One of the two primary forms of radiation therapy may be recommended for treatment of your cancer: 

  • Stereotactic radiosurgery and radiotherapy, a precise dose of radiation to the tumor area in either a single or multiple sessions 
  • Brachytherapy (episcleral plaque therapy),  the surgical implantation of small radioactive pellets onto the outside of the eyeball. Over time, the pellets release radiation into the tumor to kill it. This is the most commonly used radiation treatment for most eye melanomas.

Learn more about the variety of innovative radiation therapies offered at Houston Methodist. 

Laser Therapy for Eye Cancer

Laser therapy is a procedure that uses highly focused beams of light to treat intraocular melanoma. Your physician may discuss with you one or both of the two most common types of laser therapy:  

  • Transpupillary thermotherapy (TTT), infrared light is used to heat and kill the eye tumor. TTT is particularly effective against choroidal melanomas. 
  • Laser photocoagulation, a highly focused, high-energy light beam is used to destroy blood vessels that supply nutrients to the tumor. This therapy is often used to treat small tumors.

Chemotherapy for Eye Cancer
Chemotherapy, the use of drugs to kill cancer cells, can be useful in treating intraocular lymphoma. Chemotherapy drugs may be injected directly into the eye or into a vein. If the lymphoma has spread to the brain or spinal cord, the drugs may be injected into the cerebrospinal fluid. Chemotherapy is administered in three- or four-week cycles, with each period of treatment followed by a rest period. Most treatments are given in the doctor's office or hospital outpatient department, but some require hospital admission.


Learn more about chemotherapy treatment, including how it works within your body and what to expect while undergoing treatment.