Houston Methodist. Leading Medicine.
Houston Methodist. Leading Medicine

Treating Eye Cancer

Treating Eye Cancer

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Once eye cancer has been diagnosed and staged, your doctor may recommend one or more of the following treatments:

Radiation Therapy
Laser Therapy


Surgery is the most common treatment for intraocular melanoma. Surgical options include:

  • Iridectomy: A surgeon removes part of the iris (the colored part of the eye).
  • Iridocyclectomy: A surgeon removes part of the iris and ciliary body (the ring of tissue around the lens).
  • Sclerouvectomy/endoresection: This is a surgery to remove a choroidal tumor (a tumor in the choroid, the eye’s vascular layer) while preserving the eye.
  • Enucleation: If the tumor is large and vision cannot be saved, enucleation surgery, in which a surgeon removes the eye and part of the optic nerve, may be needed. After the surgery, you may be fitted for an artificial eye.
  • Exenteration: This is a surgery to remove the eye and eyelid, plus the muscles, nerves and fat in the eye socket. Most patients are fitted for an artificial eye and/or a facial prosthesis after exenteration.

More on surgery

Radiation Therapy
Radiation therapy uses high-energy rays to kill cancer cells in a targeted area. Radiation treatments for eye cancer can be either external (delivered by a machine outside the body) or internal (delivered through a radioactive substance sealed in disks, needles, seeds, wires or catheters placed directly into or near the cancer).

  • Stereotactic Radiosurgery and Radiotherapy: This type of external radiation treatment delivers a precise dose of radiation to the tumor area in either a single or multiple session(s); no actual surgery is involved.
  • Brachytherapy (episcleral plaque therapy): Small radioactive pellets are attached to a small disc (plaque), which is surgically implanted on 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 about the Ocular Oncology Plaque Radiotherapy Program at Houston Methodist Hospital)

More on radiation therapy

Laser Therapy
Two types of laser therapy (using highly focused beams of light) are frequently used to treat intraocular melanoma:

  • Transpupillary Thermotherapy (TTT): Infrared light is used to heat and kill the eye tumor. TTT has proven to be an effective treatment for choroidal melanomas because the melanin in the choroid (the eye’s vascular layer) absorbs the light energy.
  • 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, the use of drugs to kill cancer cells, can be useful in treating intraocular lymphoma. Chemo drugs may either be injected directly into the eye, into the cerebrospinal fluid (if the lymphoma has spread to the brain or spinal cord), or into a vein.

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.

More on chemotherapy


Learn more about eye cancer:


For more information about eye cancer treatment at the Methodist Cancer Center or to make an appointment, call us at 713-790-2700.