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What is Tumor of the Eye?

Tumor of the eye in cats is a general term that can refer to a large variety of malignant (cancerous) or benign (non-cancerous) tumors or growths in various areas of the eye of your cat. The most common types of tumors of the eye in cats are called melanocytic eye tumors which can progress to uveal melanoma. Melanoma occurs when melanocytes, or darkly pigmented cells, grow uncontrollably.

Tumor of the Eye Average Cost

From 371 quotes ranging from $300 - $8,000

Average Cost

$3,000

Symptoms of Tumor of the Eye in Cats

Depending on the type and size of tumor, and other varying factors, there could be a large range of symptoms of tumors of the eye in your cat. Below are a few symptoms of the most common conditions that cause tumors of the eye:

  • Discoloration of the iris caused by melanoma
  • Cloudy or dark portions of the eye
  • Change in iris shape
  • High pressure in the eye, also called glaucoma
  • Inflammation of the eye
  • Irregular discharge in the eye 

Types

Tumors of the eye in cats can take two different forms, malignant (cancerous) or non-malignant/benign. The symptoms for each of these main types of eye tumors will begin similarly, but often diverge as the disease progresses.

Malignant Tumors

In malignant, or cancerous, tumors of the eyes in cats, you will see the same loss of vision and other symptoms of benign eye tumors, but with rapidly increasing frequency and severity. Treatment for malignant tumors will also be different, as there will be a greater concern for the tumor spreading, or metastasizing. 

Benign Tumors

Benign, or non-cancerous, tumors of the eye will have a tendency to be slower growing and do not spread to other areas. While the tumor will still need to be treated in order to resolve the related symptoms, there is less concern for the long term prognosis of your cat’s condition if the tumor is treated or removed.

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Causes of Tumor of the Eye in Cats

Like most cancers, growths, or tumors, the cause for tumors of the eye in cats is currently unknown. Many developmental or environmental factors may cause melanoma in humans. It is assumed that these conditions operate the same way in our feline companions. 

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Diagnosis of Tumor of the Eye in Cats

As with most serious medical conditions, any diagnosis of tumors of the eye in your cat will begin with a thorough physical examination. Checking the overall health of your cat will help the veterinarian determine if any tumor has spread or if there are additional diseases contributing to the underlying condition.

Tumors of the eye in cats can be easily identified with an eye exam using an ophthalmoscope. Ophthalmoscopes work the same way for felines as they do for humans, directing light and using microscopic technology to help the veterinarian see the interior of the eye. Your vet will be able to easily identify any tumors of the eye in your cat.

Once a tumor of either kind is diagnosed, the vet will need to determine whether it is cancerous and the full size and specific location of the tumor. This information will be essential to developing an effective treatment plan. Biopsies are the preferred method for diagnosis of tumors of the eye. A very thin needle will be inserted into the tumor area and a small sampling of tissue will be cut and sent to a laboratory, or viewed under a microscope in-house, to determine whether any cancerous cells are present.

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Treatment of Tumor of the Eye in Cats

Treatment for a tumor of the eye will depend on many factors. Malignancy, size, location, and current symptoms of the tumor will all affect your veterinarian’s prescribed course of treatment.

In the case of malignant, or cancerous tumors, your veterinarian will often counsel that the entire eye  be removed. Regardless of location of the tumor, it is often difficult to excise tumors in their entirety on an area as delicate as the eye. Your vet may suggest removal of the entire eye to prevent the spread of the cancer to other parts of your cat’s body.

Removal of non-cancerous, or very small and isolated cancerous tumors may sometimes be possible using laser or cryotherapy. A laser will use heat to treat and destroy the affected cells, while cryotherapy uses freezing cold temperatures touched to the surface of the cells. The main concern with both of these treatments is in obtaining good margins, or clearing the entire area of the tumor or disease. Additionally, each procedure will have the traditional risks associated with any surgery or procedure requiring sedation via anesthesia. 

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Recovery of Tumor of the Eye in Cats

Depending on the underlying cause of the tumor, the method of treatment, and accessibility of the tumor, prognosis for your cat affected with tumor of the eyes is very good. In the case of cryotherapy or laser treatment, clean margins or elimination of all affected tumor tissue will create long-term positive outcomes for no reoccurrence of the tumor. 

If your cat’s tumor is determined to be malignant, and one eye must be removed, they will have a similarly good rate of recovery. Cats, especially indoor pets that have been thoroughly domesticated, have been shown to survive and thrive with a single eye, and can adapt easily in a household to their changed visual experience. 

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Tumor of the Eye Average Cost

From 371 quotes ranging from $300 - $8,000

Average Cost

$3,000

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Tumor of the Eye Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Need pet health advice? Ask a vet

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Ask a Vet

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Persian/Ragdoll

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Sixteen Years

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Unknown severity

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Brown Sticky Eye Discharge

Brown mucous like sticky eye secretions. Over 6 weeks now. Had an AB injection initially with AB eye drops 2xday and wipe with warm moist cotton or a wash cloth. After 2 weeks, brought in again. Scripted for AB drops with a steroid. Today our cat is lethargic, no appetite and significant mucous secretions almost shuttling the eyes.

July 30, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Sara O. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Hello, So sorry to hear about your cat. It does look like a very bad infection. Your vet can take a culture of this discharge and see what antibiotics it will respond to. I hope your cats get better soon.

July 30, 2020

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Missy

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Tabby Cat

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17 Years

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Serious severity

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Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Melanoma Cancer Eye

Hello my beautiful missy is 17 year old tabby she has rapidly been very sick over past year and recently been told she has not long to live after vet treated her blood test to diabetes and kidney negative but her eyes filling very dark shade around iris glassy dailyher symptons started few years ago of off balance and weak was told by a past vet it’s just old age and arthritis since then she has detonated only last year months now more troubled walking and hunch over her eyes all dark shade increasing in both eyes she in last week has slowed down on eating rarely goes to toliet trouble swallowing tiny food at times her behaviour up and down vet suggest best thing to put her to sleep gave me brochure on cremation he stated I could spend thousand of dollars and still in same position he said the cancer could be anywhere in her and tumour I don’t know what to do I’m in preparing soon cremation he gave her time frame less than 6 months I have heaps photos of her eyes vet has been very good but what are my other options for my missy is this cancer in her eyes looks too aggressive and too late ? pension is tight I don’t want my girl too be in too much pain her eyes rapidly growing darker shades ?

Sept. 8, 2018

Missy's Owner

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Milo

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tabby

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8 Years

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Mild severity

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1 found helpful

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Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Multiple Brown Spots Around Pupil

My cat has developed brown spots around both his eyes. I first noticed this a few months ago and thought I'd see if it becomes worse. Now there are multiple spots around his left eye. He is 8 years old. I was wondering whether this is a serious issue and I will be taking him to vets on Monday. Also, what would the cost be for treatment?

June 23, 2018

Milo's Owner

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3320 Recommendations

I’m assuming that the spots are visible on the iris as your question mentions around the eye and the symptoms say around the pupil; there are various causes for dark spots on the iris which may include corneal sequestrum, iris melanosis (more likely) among other causes. Without examining the eye myself I cannot determine which structure is affected or make a diagnosis; as far as cost is concerned, this will vary widely depending on the underlying cause and your location (country, state, city etc…). Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM https://wagwalking.com/cat/condition/dark-spots-eye

June 24, 2018

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Shimmy

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Domestic medium

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12 Years

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Serious severity

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1 found helpful

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Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Exopthamic, Nasal Blockage,

My 12 y.o. cat went to an opthalmologist today and was determined to have a retrobulbar mass (left eye). Her left nasal passage is also blocked from the mass. The opthalmologist believes it is a malignancy. I plan to do and ultrasound of the eye to begin with but I know ultimately a CT scan will be needed. If it is a malignancy is there really any hope without spending a fortune. Everything I keep reading makes.me feel like the answer is no. Is it worth putting her through the whole surgery? I don't want her to suffer unnecessarily for any reason

May 30, 2018

Shimmy's Owner

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3320 Recommendations

This is really determined on a case by case basis and it seems that the tumour is quite large and would require major surgery to remove which may still be unrewarding in the long term if viable. A CT scan would be best to get a full idea of the severity, but unfortunately there are no cheap options available here I’m afraid. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

May 30, 2018

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Toad

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DOMESTIC

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8 Years

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Serious severity

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Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Dark Spots On Iris

My cat just turned 8 in February. She has yellow eyes, but about a year and a half ago I noted that she had a small freckle at the 7 o'clock position on her right eye. By last June, the spot had grown, but it still wasn't very large. I noticed around this last Christmas, however, that it was getting much larger and beginning to surround her iris, and as a result her eyes appeared to be two colors. I thought it was some kind of infection, so I took her in to the vet. They looked at her and her eye and came to the conclusion that it is a melanoma of the eye. They did no testing, other than a physical exam and my telling them about the symptoms. They said the only course of treatment is to remove the eye as soon as possible. She has an appointment in 4 days time to have the eye removed. Since we did no blood work or xrays, should I have them do this before we have the surgery just to confirm that it is, in fact, malignant? Or would the same steps be taken if the tumors are benign? I just don't want to do something that can't be undone. Other than that, she is in excellent health.

April 2, 2018

Toad's Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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1611 Recommendations

It might be worth having a consultation with an ophthalmologist to make sure that the diagnosis is correct before taking extraordinary measures. it may well be a melanoma of the iris, and the recommended therapy for that condition is to remove the eye, but it would be worth the cost of the appointment to make sure.

April 2, 2018

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Ruby

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Cat

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15 Years

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Serious severity

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Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Brown Patch On Iris, Enlarged Pupil

My 15 year old cat has had a freckle on her iris since she was a kitten which has now grown into a fairly large brown patch, and her pupil is also enlarged. She doesn't seem to be in any pain and is her usual, sleepy but happy self. Our vet inspected it and confirmed it is a malignant melanoma, and that nothing can be done other than remove the eye, but suggested watching for changes over the next six months. My concern is that if left for six months, the cancer has more chance of spreading, and she will then be 16 which makes operations risky. On the other hand to remove it now is still risky at her age and may be unnecessary, but would lower the chance of it spreading. I am at a loss to know what to do for the best.

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Lil cat

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Shorthair

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10 Years

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Moderate severity

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0 found helpful

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Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Eye And Nasal Drainage, Eye Redness

I have a 10 yr old black and white male cat with FIV, has been healthy, had all teeth extracted. At Christmas he developed drainage from left nostril, tx with 2 courses of antibiotics with no help, now has eye swelling and the 3rd membrane has swollen and become blood engorged. The cet said this is most likely a fast growing tumor and we should euthanize him. We are struggling since he is still running around and is otherwise normal he is on prednisone and zithromax. Shoukd we get a 2nd opinion or just plan he will gradually decline we are really struggling with what to do, eye looks terrible but otherwise he is ok

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Smokey

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longhair domestic

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18 Years

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Moderate severity

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0 found helpful

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Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Eye Swollen

Smokey is about 18 years old and has a malignant tumor (sarcoma) under his eyelid. They are saying that need to take the eye and the skin around it. However they need to do Blood tests to see if he can withstand the anesthesia. I am so afraid that he won’t. I don’t know what to do.

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Moose

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Non spec

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12 Years

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Moderate severity

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0 found helpful

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Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Eye Bulging

My cat has been diagnosed with malignant cancer behind the eye. The vets said there is nothing that can be done. That we’ll need to put him down. Because of the pain. When will we know it’s time?

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Pogo

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Norwegian Forest

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13 Years

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Serious severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Weeping Eye, Lumps, Constipation,

Found a small lump at corner of my 13 year old white cat two months ago. Vet said he had eye cancer and gave him six months. He now has a few lumps growing on outside of his eye and starting to distort his eye. We promised him no more surgeries but should we take him back to the vet? He doesn’t seem to be in any pain and still acts like a kitten.

Tumor of the Eye Average Cost

From 371 quotes ranging from $300 - $8,000

Average Cost

$3,000

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