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Eye Cancer Treatment

Treatment of ocular cancers is highly specialized. At MD Anderson, we personalize your care to include the most-advanced therapies with the least impact on your body.  Our goals are to:

  • Provide successful treatment while preserving your eye and vision when possible
  • Restore the function of the eye structure
  • Restore your appearance in the eye and facial area after treatment

Our eye cancer program is one of the most active in the nation, which gives us a high level of expertise and experience that can translate into a better outcome. We take a team approach, bringing together experts including surgeons, radiation oncologists, pathologists, medical oncologists and plastic surgeons specially trained in eye cancer treatments.

And we’re constantly researching newer, safer and more-effective treatments for ocular cancers. As a result, we offer several clinical trials.

Our Eye Cancer Treatments

If you are diagnosed with an ocular cancer, your doctor will discuss the best options to treat it. This depends on several factors, including:

  • The type of cancer
  • Location and size of cancer
  • If cancer has spread (metastasized)
  • Your age and health

At MD Anderson, your treatment for ocular cancer will be customized to your particular needs. One or more of the following therapies may be recommended to treat the cancer or help relieve symptoms.

If you have been diagnosed with eye cancer, we’re here to help. Call 1-877-632-6789 to make an appointment or request an appointment online.

Why Choose MD Anderson?

  • Latest eye cancer treatments, including specialized surgical techniques to remove cancer but save the eye, proton therapy, targeted therapies, advanced reconstructive surgery for eyelid and orbital cancer
  • Advanced diagnostic techniques including sentinel lymph node biopsy, ultrasound biomicroscopy, confocal biomicroscopy and optical coherence tomography (OCT)
  • Skilled, highly specialized eye surgeons and reconstructive surgeons who have dedicated many years of their career to exclusively treat cancer
  • We treat more eye cancers than most centers
  • Team approach to treating eye cancers
  • Clinical trials of leading-edge treatments for eye cancer

Eye Cancer Knowledge Center

Treatment at MD Anderson

Cancers of the eye are treated in our:

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One of the following surgeries may be used to treat eye cancer.

Eye-preserving surgery: This is often possible for eyelid cancers, conjunctival cancers and orbital cancers. Our highly specialized eye surgeons use the latest surgical techniques to remove the cancer while making every effort to preserve the function and aesthetic appearance of your eye, eyelid and facial area.

Iridectomy: The iris (colored part of the eye) is removed.

Iridotrabeculectomy: The iris and a small part of the outer section of the eyeball are removed.

Eye reconstructive surgery: Our ophthalmic plastic, or oculoplastic, surgeons often can restore function, preserve vision and improve cosmetic appearance after surgical removal of cancer of the eyelid, conjunctiva or orbit. These specialists have spent many years studying and practicing the art and science of treating ocular cancers while preserving the eye and vision and restoring function and appearance in the ocular and facial area.

Enucleation: To treat some types of eye cancer, the entire eye has to be removed. This is done only in advanced cases and in some instances for intraocular tumors such as uveal melanoma or retinoblastoma.

Orbital exenteration: This surgery entails the removal of the eye, eyelids, surrounding skin, orbital muscles, fat and nerves. It is sometimes needed for aggressive cancers of the orbit or sinuses, or advanced or recurrent cancers of the eyelid or conjunctiva.

Laser Treatment

A laser uses an intense, focused beam of light to destroy eye cancer tissue. This is used sometimes for treatment of uveal melanoma.

Radiation Therapy

New radiation therapy techniques and remarkable skill allow MD Anderson doctors to target tumors more precisely, delivering the maximum amount of radiation with the least damage to healthy cells.

MD Anderson provides the most advanced radiation treatments for eye cancer, including:

  • Brachytherapy: Tiny radioactive seeds are placed in the body close to the tumor. This technique is commonly used for treatment of uveal melanoma.
  • 3D-conformal radiation therapy: Several radiation beams are given in the exact shape of the tumor. This technique can be used for certain types of orbital tumors.
  • Intensity-modulated radiotherapy (IMRT): Treatment is tailored to the specific shape of the tumor. This technique is used for treatment of orbital and eyelid cancers.
  • Gamma Knife: Pinpoint beams of radiation are given from hundred of angles. This technique is used for certain types of orbital and skull base tumors.

Proton Therapy

The Proton Therapy Center at MD Anderson is one of the world’s largest and most advanced centers. It’s the only proton therapy facility in the country located within a comprehensive cancer center. This means this cutting-edge therapy is backed by all the expertise and compassionate care for which MD Anderson is famous.

Proton therapy delivers high radiation doses directly into the tumor, sparing nearby healthy tissue and vital organs. For many patients, this results in better cancer control with fewer side effects.

Proton therapy is used for tumors of the orbit such as orbital rhabdomyosarcoma, optic nerve and orbital menigiomas, and certain types of cancers of the lacrimal sac/duct.


Extreme cold is used to destroy cancer cells. This treatment is used with surgery for some conjunctival cancers such as conjunctival squamous cell carcinoma and conjunctival melanoma.

Monoclonal Antibodies

These special antibodies work with the body’s immune system to help it fight the eye cancer. Our ophthalmologists have conducted clinical trials of monoclonal antibodies for treatment of orbital and conjunctival lymphoma.


MD Anderson offers the most up-to-date and effective chemotherapy options for eye cancer. Our ophthalmologists have experience with topical chemotherapy (chemotherapy in the form of drops), which may be used as a supplement to surgical treatment of certain types of conjunctival carcinoma such as sebaceous carcinoma or squamous carcinoma and also in some patients with conjunctival melanoma.
Chemotherapy may be given for retinoblastoma and certain types of orbital lymphoma. MD Anderson ophthalmologists have worked with medical oncologists to develop newer forms of oral chemotherapy that are targeted against certain forms of basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma as an alternative to surgery.

Our Clinical Trials

Because of its status as one of the world’s premier cancer centers, MD Anderson participates in many clinical trials (research studies) for eye cancer. Sometimes they are a patient’s best option for treatment. Other times, they help researchers learn how to treat cancer and improve the future of cancer treatment.

To find out more about clinical trials at MD Anderson for eye cancer, visit our Clinical Trials database or speak to your doctor.

© 2015 The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center