What is an Orbital Tumor?

The orbit is the bony socket that contains and protects the eyeball. The structure also allows the optic nerve to pass from the eye to the brain. The entire orbital region includes the surrounding bone and muscles that control the eye as well as nerves and blood vessels.

An orbital tumor can be a scary diagnosis that affects your eyes or your vision. It is definitely a delicate situation requiring surgical skill and expertise. Orbital tumors are just one of the specialty conditions our physicians at CHI St. Vincent Arkansas Neuroscience Institute see and treat frequently and successfully.

The cause of orbital tumors is unknown. If cancer is present in another part of the body, it can metastasize and spread to the orbit. In children, it can be the result of developmental abnormalities. In this narrow space, a wide variety of tumors may develop. They include:

  • Meningiomas
  • Schwannomas/ neurofibromas
  • Optic gliomas
  • Osteomas
  • Hemangiomas and lymphangiomas
  • Sarcomas
  • Fibrous histiocytomas
  • Retinoblastoma


Orbital tumors can occur in both adults and children. For both adults and children, most orbital tumors will be blood vessel tumors that are hemangiomas and lymphangiomas.


Treatment and Symptoms

One of the most common symptoms is the protrusion of the eye. Many times you’ll experience double vision or even some vision loss. You may also feel some pain or pressure in the eye socket.

In some cases, a tumor can be visible and easily identified. However, in most cases, a CT scan or MRI is used to diagnose. If either of these looks suspicious, a biopsy may be performed to determine if the tumor is malignant.

Treatment will depend on your individual situation. Our experienced team of physicians will develop the best care plan for you. If the tumor is small and does not affect your vision or eyes, it may just be observed without treatment. However, if the tumor does cause problems, then surgical removal may be necessary. For benign tumors, surgery more than likely is the only treatment required. The exact location and size of the tumor will also dictate surgery and the type of procedure. With rare malignant orbital tumors, surgery with radiation and chemotherapy may be the best plan for you.

No matter what type of orbital tumor you have, our multi-specialty team is experienced and knowledgeable about how to treat it. Please contact us if you or a loved one has been diagnosed with an orbital tumor.

To Make a Referral Call 501.552.6412. For Emergencies, call our 24/7 access phone at 501.552.2727.