Ocular tumours

Benign epibulbar tumours

Conjunctival naevus

  • Diagnosis

    • Presentation: in 1st and 2nd decades.

    • Signs: (a) slightly elevated pigmented bulbar lesion of variable size and pigmentation, (b) often juxtalimbal ( Fig. 12.1 ); (c) cystic spaces are common.

      Fig 12.1

    • Signs of potential malignancy: (a) prominent feeder vessels, (b) sudden growth or increase in pigmentation, and (c) development after the 2nd decade, particularly in an unusual site such as palpebral or forniceal conjunctiva.

  • Treatment: excision, usually for cosmetic reasons; less commonly for irritation or suspicion of malignancy.

Conjunctival papilloma

  • Pathogenesis: often infection with human papillomavirus (especially types 6 and 11), particularly in childhood.

  • Diagnosis: (a) solitary pedunculated or sessile lesion; (b) most frequently juxtalimbal ( Fig. 12.2 ), in the fornix ( Fig. 12.3 ), or caruncle; (c) may occasionally be multiple and confluent.

    Fig 12.2

    Fig 12.3

  • Treatment: small lesions often resolve spontaneously; large papillomas may require excision, sometimes with cryotherapy to the base and surrounding area.


  • Histology: solid mass of collagenous tissue containing dermal elements covered by stratified squamous epithelium.

  • Diagnosis

    • Presentation: in early childhood.

    • Signs: (a) smooth yellowish subconjunctival mass of soft consistency; (b) most frequently at the inferotemporal limbus; (c) protruding hair may be seen ( Fig. 12.4 ).

      Fig 12.4

    • Systemic associations: Goldenhar syndrome (oculoauriculovertebral spectrum) and, less commonly, Treacher Collins syndrome.

  • Treatment: small lesions are excised; large dermoids may require lamellar keratosclerectomy.

Pyogenic granuloma

  • Pathogenesis: fibrovascular proliferation in response to a conjunctival insult such as surgery, trauma, or ruptured chalazion; spontaneous lesions are rare.

  • Diagnosis

    • Presentation: typically a few weeks after surgery, with a fast-growing, pink, fleshy, vascularized conjunctival mass near a wound ( Fig. 12.5 ).

      Fig 12.5

    • Differential diagnosis: (a) suture granuloma, (b) vascular tumour, and (c) Tenon granuloma or cyst.

  • Treatment: topical steroids; excision of resistant cases.

Conjunctival (racial) epithelial melanosis

  • Definition: very common in dark-skinned individuals; both eyes are affected, often asymmetrically.

  • Diagnosis: (a) areas of flat, patchy, brownish pigmentation scattered throughout the conjunctiva, (b) more intensely at the limbus and around perforating vessels or nerves as they enter the sclera (Axenfeld loop; Fig. 12.6 ); (c) the pigment lies within the epithelium and therefore moves freely over the surface of the globe.

    Fig 12.6

Malignant and premalignant epibulbar tumours

Primary acquired melanosis (pam)

  • Definition: unilateral condition typically affecting white individuals older than 45 years of age. There are two histological variants which cannot be distinguished clinically.

    • PAM without atypia: no risk of malignant transformation.

    • PAM with atypia: regarded as melanoma in situ has a 50% chance of infiltrative malignancy within 5 years.

  • Diagnosis

    • Signs: (a) irregular solitary or multifocal areas of flat, golden brown to dark chocolate epithelial pigmentation; (b) seen most commonly in the interpalpebral region, although any part of the conjunctiva may be affected ( Fig. 12.7 ).

      Fig 12.7

    • Course: (a) PAM may expand, shrink, or remain stable for long periods, (b) may focally lighten or darken, and (c) malignant transformation should be suspected if a flat lesion becomes nodular.

  • Treatment: (a) small lesions may be excised; (b) large lesions should undergo incisional biopsy from various sites, with subsequent cryotherapy or topical mitomycin C for PAM with atypia.

Conjunctival melanoma

  • Origin: (a) from PAM with atypia (75%), (b) pre-existing naevus (20%), or (c) de novo.

  • Diagnosis

    • Presentation: in 6th decade.

    • Signs: (a) black, grey, or pinkish (amelanotic) vascularized nodule; may be fixed to the episclera, (b) commonly at the limbus ( Fig. 12.8 ), but may develop anywhere, and (c) multifocal lesions can arise from PAM with atypia as areas of thickening and nodularity ( Fig. 12.9 ).

      Fig 12.8

      Fig 12.9

    • Poor prognostic indicators: (a) multifocal tumour, (b) forniceal location, and (c) thickness of 2 mm or more; mortality at 10 years is 25%.

    • Differential diagnosis: (a) large naevus, (b) ciliary body melanoma with extraocular extension, (c) melanocytoma, and (d) pigmented conjunctival carcinoma.

  • Treatment: excision with a wide-margin lamellar scleroconjunctivectomy and cryotherapy; radiotherapy to the base if deep extension is present histologically.

Ocular surface squamous neoplasia

  • Definition: spectrum of benign, premalignant and malignant unilateral slowly progressive epithelial lesions of the conjunctiva and cornea.

  • Risk factors: (a) excessive ultraviolet exposure, (b) human papilloma virus infection, (c) AIDS, and (d) xeroderma pigmentosum.

  • Diagnosis

    • Presentation: in old age with irritation or a visible mass within the interpalpebral fissure; commonly juxtalimbal, but may involve any part of the conjunctiva or cornea.

    • Signs: variable and limited correlation with histological type: (a) gelatinous mass with superficial vessels, (b) elevated white leucoplakic plaque ( Fig. 12.10 ), (c) fleshy pink papillomatous lesion with prominent feeder and surface blood vessels ( Fig. 12.11 ); (d) can masquerade as chronic conjunctivitis; corneal involvement may occur ( Fig. 12.12 ).

      Fig 12.10

      Fig 12.11

      Fig 12.12

    • Spread: intraocular extension is uncommon and metastatic disease extremely rare.

    • Investigations: ultrasonic biomicroscopy (UBM) to estimate the depth of invasion, and impression cytology.

  • Treatment: (a) excision with 2 or 3 mm margins and assessment of clearance with frozen sections; (b) adjunctive measures aimed at reducing recurrence include cryotherapy, brachytherapy, and topical chemotherapy.

Lymphoproliferative lesions

  • Pathology: most conjunctival lymphoproliferative lesions consist of reactive lymphoid hyperplasia, but lymphoma may arise de novo , by extension from orbital disease or occasionally associated with systemic involvement. Rarely, reactive hyperplasia undergoes malignant transformation. Most conjunctival lymphomas are of B cell origin.

  • Diagnosis

    • Presentation: in the 7th and 8th decades with irritation or painless swelling; may be bilateral.

    • Signs: slow-growing salmon-pink or flesh-coloured mobile infiltrate ( Fig. 12.13 ).

      Fig 12.13

  • Treatment: radiotherapy, chemotherapy, and excision.

Kaposi sarcoma

  • Definition: slowly growing vascular tumour occurring almost exclusively in AIDS.

  • Diagnosis: flat bright-red lesion ( Fig. 12.14 ) that may mimic a subconjunctival haemorrhage.

    Fig 12.14

  • Treatment: radiotherapy or excision, with or without adjunctive cryotherapy.

Iris tumours

Iris naevus

  • Diagnosis

    • Signs: (a) solitary pigmented, flat or slightly elevated, circumscribed lesion usually less than 3 mm in diameter, (b) typically located inferiorly ( Fig. 12.15 ).

      Fig 12.15

    • Signs of potential malignancy: (a) prominent vascularity, (b) rapid growth, (c) diffuse spread, and (d) seeding.

  • Treatment: not required, although observation is sometimes indicated.

Iris melanoma

  • Pathology: approximately 8% of uveal melanomas arise in the iris. The majority are composed of spindle cells of low-grade malignancy. Predisposing factors include (a) fair skin, (b) light iris colour, (c) numerous cutaneous naevi, (d) congenital ocular and oculodermal melanocytosis (naevus of Ota), and (e) NF1.

  • Diagnosis

    • Presentation: in 5th and 6th decades with enlargement of a pre-existing iris lesion.

    • Typical signs: (a) very slowly growing pigmented or nonpigmented nodule at least 3 mm in diameter, (b) usually in the inferior half of the iris ( Fig. 12.16 ), and (c) often associated with surface blood vessels.

      Fig 12.16

    • Associated signs: (a) pupillary distortion, (b) ectropion uveae ( Fig. 12.17 ), (c) angle invasion ( Fig. 12.18 ) with glaucoma, and (d) localized cataract.

      Fig 12.17

      Fig 12.18

  • Treatment: (a) observation of suspicious lesions, (b) iridectomy for small tumours and iridocyclectomy for angle invasion, (c) brachytherapy or external proton beam irradiation, and (d) enucleation for diffusely growing tumours if radiotherapy is not possible.

Iris cysts


  • Diagnosis

    • Signs: unilateral or bilateral, solitary or multiple globular brown ( Fig. 12.19 ) or transparent ( Fig. 12.20 ) structures located at the pupillary border, midzone, or iris root.

      Fig 12.19

      Fig 12.20

    • Complications: rarely glaucoma and corneal decompensation.

  • Treatment: options include (a) observation, (b) argon laser photocoagulation, (c) needle aspiration, and (d) excision.


Jul 11, 2019 | Posted by in OPHTHALMOLOGY | Comments Off on Ocular tumours
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