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Benign Eye Diseases

5 Common Benign Eye Diseases

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Being diagnosed with benign eye disease can be scary and intimidating because it can impact your patient’s ability to visually engage with the world around him/her. Benign eye diseases are non-cancerous tumor growths (or inflammation) on the tissue surrounding the eye. The growth can appear on the conjunctiva or inside the eye. 

Benign eye diseases/tumors develop primarily from an abnormal growth of blood vessels, called hemangiomas, inside or around the eye. Other factors include environmental and age-related changes. Nevertheless, non-cancerous eye diseases are not as bad as they sound. They aren’t life threatening, and there are treatment options available. Most importantly, benign eye diseases and tumors do not spread (metastasize) to other parts of the body.

Choroidal Hemangioma

A choroidal hemangioma is the most common type of non-cancerous eye tumor diagnosed in adults. The tumor develops in the blood vessels of the choroid — a layer of tissue beneath the retina of the eye. Choroidal hemangiomas are non-malignant cancer growths, so they do not metastasize. 

They grow slowly and do not usually require immediate treatment, although you may recommend regular eye exams for your patient to keep track of the disease. Treatment is usually recommended if fluid from the hemangioma leaks into the eye and causes vision problems, or if the hemangioma is located on the macula and affects visual acuity. Other treatment options include radiation therapy, photodynamic therapy, and laser surgery.

Orbital Pseudotumor

Orbital pseudotumor is among the third most common orbital diseases. The non-cancerous eye disease is characterized by inflammation of tissue in the area behind the eye called the orbit. The orbit is the cavity or socket in the skull where the eye sits that protects the eye and the surrounding muscles and tissue. 

The inflammatory mass (tumor) can develop in one or both eyes and cause the eye to protrude (proptosis). The swelling may also affect other tissue around the eye or restrict eye movement. This typically results in severe eye pain, reduced vision, and double vision. Orbital pseudotumor may be treated with corticosteroid. Surgery may be necessary in severe cases to relieve pressure on the orbit.

Pinguecula

A pinguecula is a non-cancerous growth that develops on the eye due to irritation from exposure to sunlight, dust, or wind. One or more growths (pingueculae) can occur on the conjunctiva. The growth looks like a tiny, raised yellowish patch and commonly appears on the areas of the cornea closer to the nose. 

Common symptoms of pinguecula are itchy or dry eye, irritation, redness, inflammation, or a feeling like there is a rough particle in your eye. Pinguecula is commonly seen in middle-aged to senior adults. Treatment is not necessary in most cases. If necessary, you may prescribe eye drops or ointment to relieve dryness or irritation.

Pterygium

This benign growth is typically wedge-shaped and develops over the conjunctiva. Pterygium is linked to frequent exposure to sunlight, wind, dust, pollen, or smoke. A pterygium does not usually cause problems; however, it may grow larger and cover your cornea. 

Treatment is not necessary in most cases unless your patient is experiencing severe discomfort or the growth is blocking his/her vision. Eye drops or corticosteroid ointment may be prescribed to relieve irritation, redness, or inflammation. Surgery may be necessary to remove the pterygium in severe cases, such as when there is severe scarring on the cornea or risk of vision loss.

Cavernous Hemangioma

Cavernous hemangioma is a relatively common benign eye disease. It occurs when a collection of dilated/swollen blood vessels form a lesion, or non-cancerous mass called an angioma. The mass appears behind the eye socket (orbit) and may restrict or slow down blood flow through the cavities, or caverns. 

Blurred or double vision is a common symptom of cavernous hemangioma. Vision may not be affected unless the mass is pressing on the eye. This can push the eye forward causing it to bulge. Angiomas can create serious problems if they remain untreated. 

Issues include bleeding, optic nerve compression, corneal exposure, slurred speech, seizure, and vision loss. Surgical treatment for cavernous hemangioma includes radiation therapy and surgery to remove the tumor. Treatment options usually depend on the size and location of the tumor. 

Questions? Contact Keeler Today

We have been manufacturing diagnostic equipment for eye care professionals for over 100 years in our vision to contribute to a world without vision loss. We have a large inventory of ultrasonic and diagnostic equipment as well as a pharmaceutical and PPE line. If you have any questions or would like more information, please call our toll free number at 1-800-523-5620 or email us at [email protected].

About the Author Eugene VanArsdale

Eugene is the Director of Marketing Communications at Keeler Instruments. He has been with Keeler since 1982 and is co-holder of two patents for the company. Eugene has a true passion for the eye care industry and has dedicated himself to understanding the ins and outs of the optometric and ophthalmic equipment market.