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What is Tumor of the Eye?

Tumors or growths found in the eye of our canine friends is not an uncommon case for those in the veterinary field. Tissue changes in the eye can develop as a primary tumor, and can also be a secondary result of spreading tumor cells that began in another part of the body.Tumors of the eye can be both malignant and benign.

Tumor of the eye in dogs can also be described as ocular neoplasia. New, abnormal growth of tissue in the canine eye can comprise of lesions found in the areas of the eyelid, cornea, conjunctiva, orbit, and other structural sections of the eye such as the iris or ciliary body.

Tumor of the Eye Average Cost

From 367 quotes ranging from $200 - $3,500

Average Cost

$1,600

Symptoms of Tumor of the Eye in Dogs

Because of the number of eye tumors in existence, symptoms will vary from one type to another. Some of the lesions and their symptoms are listed here.

  • Eyelid neoplasia
    • This presents as a mass on the eyelid margin or within the lid
    • It can range in color from pink to very dark brown
  • Uveal melanoma
    • There may be a mass on the iris or ciliary body
    • The mass can protrude or distort the pupil
    • Blood vessels can rupture
    • There may be pain
    • Later stages can include hemorrhage, retinal detachment or glaucoma
  • Limbal (epibulbar) melanoma
    • This tumor can be seen as mainly circular, pigmented masses on the cornea which point inward towards the globe of the eye
    • There may be excessive tear production
    • Often conjunctival irritation occurs
  • Corneal squamous cell carcinoma
    • This tumor will be characterized by a pink mass on the epithelial surface of the cornea
    • The conjunctiva, eyelid, cornea and third eyelid are affected
  • Orbital neoplasia
    • The eyelid may protrude forward
    • There can be swelling of the conjunctiva, cornea, and eyelid
    • Often the two eyes do not move in tandem
    • The pupil may be dilated
Types

There are multiple types of tumors that can grow in the eyes of our canine family members. Some of them are listed below.

  • Eyelid neoplasia
    • These tumors can be disfiguring and irritating
    • They are usually slow growing
    • Maintaining eyelid function is a concern during surgery
    • The metastatic spread is low
    • Weimaraners and Vizslas are known to be highly documented with this tumor
  • Uveal melanoma
    • This is most commonly seen in the Labrador Retriever
    • This type of tumor can be both benign or malignant
    • The tumor arises from the iris or ciliary body of the eye
  • Limbal (epibulbar) melanoma
    • Female dogs, German Shepherds, and Labrador Retrievers are documented to be predisposed
    • The average age of a canine with this type of tumor is 5 to 6 years old
    • The tumors are often benign
  • Corneal Squamous Cell Carcinoma
    • These tumors tend to be malignant
    • Conjunctival neoplasia is included in this category
    • After removal, the growth will often recur
    • The lesions are known to be aggressive
  • Orbital neoplasia
    • 90% of these tumors become malignant by the time they are noticed
    • They can invade the sinuses, oral cavity, bones, and brain
    • They are generally nonpainful but the prognosis is poor
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Causes of Tumor of the Eye in Dogs

Though the exact causes of cancer have not yet been defined, your dog may get a tumor in the eye as a result of the following factors.

  • There could be a viral cause
  • UV light exposure may contribute
  • A lesion may arise from the sebaceous gland at the rim of the eyelid
  • Chronic ocular inflammation could be a factor
  • Another metastatic disease could spread to the eye
  • Brachycephalic breeds who have had recurring keratoconjunctivitis are susceptible to tumors
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Diagnosis of Tumor of the Eye in Dogs

The eye may be a small part of the body, but the intricacy of the eye structure is complex. Because of this, your veterinarian will utilize many diagnostic tools when determining the cause of a tumor in your pet’s eye. Depending on the type of lesion, the location of the mass, and the suspected diagnosis, your veterinary caregiver will include many of the following means in order to come to a conclusion. She may also suggest a visit with the ophthalmologist for testing and imaging.

  • A complete blood count and serum chemistry profile will be useful to analyze your dog’s health
  • An veterinary ophthalmology specialist may do ocular tests that will consist of tonometry (to verify intraocular pressure), slit lamp (to look at structures at the front of the eye), and fundoscopy (to look at the interior lining of the eyeball)
  • A gonioscopy will give an excellent view of the inner eye
  • A physical examination will involve a thoracic auscultation, abdominal palpation, and analysis of regional lymph nodes to check for additional masses or swelling
  • Radiographs of the skull, chest, and abdomen will determine if metastatic spread has taken place
  • An ultrasound may rule out metastatic development, a computerized tomography (CT)scan can see bone involvement, and a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) will check for soft tissue damage
  • A fine needle aspiration or biopsy will also determine if tissues have been affected
  • Your veterinarian or ophthalmologist will also look for secondary complications such as blindness or uveitis
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Treatment of Tumor of the Eye in Dogs

Treatment of a tumor of the eye will be contingent on the type of mass. For example, lid tumors might be removed surgically by excision, taking care to remove all of the mass while trying to maintain a well functioning eyelid. Cryosurgery, which is using extreme cold to kill affected tissue, is another method.

Tumors such as uveal melanoma can mean the loss of the eyeball, but sometimes laser surgery is successful without taking the eye out. Limbal melanoma could mean a keratectomy or sclerectomy, which is surgical removal of the lesion, with the added step of graft replacement.

In the case of a corneal tumor, if superficial, the tumor alone might be excised. If the complete eyeball is affected, it will need to be removed. Orbital lesions might necessitate removal of the entire eyeball, along with nearby bone and tissue if there is involvement.

Enucleation is a procedure whereby the globe of the eye is taken out while preserving the soft tissue. This is possible in many cases.

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Recovery of Tumor of the Eye in Dogs

In cases where the tumor was found to be malignant, and there has been an advance to other tissues, radiation and chemotherapy will be part of the recovery process. If the tumor was impossible to remove, palliative care would be the best way to give your beloved furry family member a good quality to the remainder of his life.

Fortunately, the prognosis for tumors in the eye is often positive. Follow up with your veterinary caregiver will be needed for perhaps a period of a few months. Immediately upon your arrival home from the eye surgery, you will need to be aware of the possibility of swelling, and be able to put eye drops or antibiotic cream in the eye if required. Be certain to wash your hands whenever you apply medications or ointments to your dog’s eye area.

If you have any concerns, contact your veterinarian or specialist directly. It must be noted that regrowth of certain tumors of the eye frequently materializes.

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Tumor of the Eye Average Cost

From 367 quotes ranging from $200 - $3,500

Average Cost

$1,600

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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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Lab mix

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Nine Years

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Unknown severity

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Redness, Bulging

Our lab's eye is bulging outward. The white is very red. Our vet is not able to push her eyeball back at all. She thinks she has cancer. Can eye removal help. Can a tumor e removed.

Aug. 7, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. If there is a tumor behind her eye, that can be removed, yes, and dogs do quite well with having an eye removed. Unfortunately, I can't say whether that will help her as I can't see her and I don't know her situation, but that would definitely be something to talk to your veterinarian about as an option. I hope that she feels better soon.

Aug. 7, 2020

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German Shepherd

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10 Years

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Unknown severity

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Swollen Eye With Browinsh Discharge

My 10 year Mikka had eye surgery for limbal Melanocytomasyesterday, today her eye is very swollen and she has a brownish thick discharge coming form the eye. Is this normal, time for emergency vet , or wait for my vet in 12 hours? see photo

July 18, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Gina U. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Hello Unfortunately we cannot see photos on this platform. It is recommended that you take her to an emergency vet right away. Since she recently had surgery, a doctor should take a look at her eye to make sure everything looks go. Good luck.

July 18, 2020

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Truman

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Manchester Terrier

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4 Years

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Mild severity

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Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Protruding Eye
Protruding Eye Third Eye Exposed

My dog had a protruding eye with his third eye partially exposed. He had no pain and could see fine. An opthomologist said he most likely had a tumor behind his eye, possibly stemming from the nasal cavity. But now, four days later, his eye is hardly swollen at all. It looks almost normal and the third eye is only showing a little bit. Could he have been misdiagnosed? Do tumors move?

Aug. 17, 2018

Truman's Owner

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3320 Recommendations

Without examining Truman and possibly doing an ocular ultrasound to see behind the eye, I cannot say what the cause may be; tumours may cause these symptoms but I cannot say that they move or shrink. I would keep an eye on Truman for the time being and follow up with your Veterinarian after the weekend if there are other changes; an ocular ultrasound or CT/MRI may be useful. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

Aug. 17, 2018

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Tahser

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Golden Retriever

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13 Years

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Mild severity

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Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Tried Not Eating Much

My doh had her eye removed she had a large melinoma and she came through it quite well. Two month later she was not too good and I took her to the vets who said he lymph glands were swollen. They took some fluid from the lymph gland to check for lymphoma but it was inconclusive. They put her on anti biotics in case she had and infection. We have now finnished them but the vet tells me the lymphnodes are still swollen. I suspect that the cancer has spread and she my well have lymphoma. She is 13 years old and I don't want to put here through anymore surgery. Do you think that this may well be lyphoma. She is now acting ,eating and running around as normal .

June 18, 2018

Tahser's Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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1611 Recommendations

Swollen lymph nodes in a 13 year old dog that don't respond to antibiotics are worrisome, yes. There is a good chance that she has lymphoma. There are some non-aggressive chemotherapy options for lymphoma that may extend her life a little bit without putting her through any stresses that you can discuss with your veterinarian. I hope that she is okay.

June 18, 2018

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Cino

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Border Collie

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8 Years

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Serious severity

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1 found helpful

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Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Eye Bulging

My 8 year old border collie (Cino) developed what appears to be a tumour in his left eye. We noticed at the end of January that was squinting, and on close inspection we saw that the eyeball was red, and the pupil was distorted into a smaller, square shape. Since the beginning of February he has been examined by our vet, and also an opthamologist. He was given antibiotics for 10 days, anti inflammatory tablets for 10 days, as well as a steroid-based eye drops. The eye improved in early February but then returned to being distorted. He has no other symptoms of being unwell. Eats and drinks normally, seems content, has not lost weight, and is exercising as normal. The opthamologist was suspicious of lymphoma. In late February he had blood tests taken and also had an X-ray on his chest. This was all done by our own vet, and we also visited the opthamologist again. The X-rays of his chest showed nothing unusual. His blood biochemistry test results were good/healthy. His haematology results also show him to be healthy. The opthamologist wants to see him in April. He has been working to an assumption that this might be lymphoma. However Cino has no other swellings of lymph nodes, all of the tests so far suggest nothing is wrong, and Cino is well in himself. What could this be? About two weeks ago I became very sad about the prospect of losing him very soon, but that was before the test results came back. I’m starting to feel more encouraged but don’t want false hopes either.

March 13, 2018

Cino's Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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1611 Recommendations

Thank you for your email. I'm sorry that is happening to Cino. If your ophthalmologist suspects lymphoma after examining him and reviewing his lab work, that is likely a possible cause. They will be able to tell you more after they see him in April, but his negative test results could well be a positive sign. I hope that all goes well for him!

March 13, 2018

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Kody Cooper

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Golden Retriever

dog-age-icon

6 Years

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Serious severity

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Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Hi - my 6 year old was diagnosed w melanoma of eyelid. After 2 surgeries it kept coming back. Ct scan shows nothing in lung n Lymph node. So we decided to enucliate the eye. 7 weeks later a large hard bump is now under the scar where eye was removed n towards the nose. Spent 10k at specialist n now Ophthalmologist says nothing else they can do for me. I’m furious. I need help. Is it back n these hard bumps means it’s not gone?? Read more at: https://wagwalking.com/condition/tumor-of-eye#_=_

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Daisy

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Labrador Retriever

dog-age-icon

4 Years

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Moderate severity

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Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Lump

On our second go-round with a mass above the eye. Had it removed both times. Low grade cancer on the first one, waiting for the lab results on the second. Worried it is the same type of cancer returning- but bigger and nastier this time around. Money is no object. I will literally go broke fighting this disease for my dog, but at a loss as to where to go, what to do. Super healthy in all other ways. 4 year old lab/pit mix. No other other health problems. I refuse to consider end of life options. Our vet thought he got good margins last time. It is now 9 months later and the growth was bigger this time. What our the options? Please and thank u.

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Jack

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Boston Terrier

dog-age-icon

10 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

Nasal Discharge
Loss Of Balance
Walks In Circles

My dog had his left eye removed in April, the cause of the problem was never known, but was blind with chronic infections. 2 weeks ago he began having severe congestion, & nasal discharge from the nostril on the same side as eye removal. Vet prescribed antibiotics and benadryl. This week he began to lose coordination, severely, going in circles, falling ovat etc. Also has no sense of smell, gets lost in house etc. Vet now says tumor may be where eye was removed since it's protruding and didn't "sink in" as most enucleations do & basically no hope. Was given more antibiotics & prednisone. I'm devastated and confused. Wouldn't a tumor have been noticed during the eye removal surgery? It seems there's nothing I can do for him.I asked why a biopsy wasn't done and they said all looked good during the surgery in April. This came on fast, within 2 to 3 weeks told. Thank you for your help.

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Mater

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Boxer

dog-age-icon

10 Years

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Moderate severity

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0 found helpful

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

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Eye Red
Eye Red, Eye Cloudy

My 10 year old white boxer just had a burr debridement and now has been diagnosed with corneal squamous cell carcinoma. He also recently had been diagnosed with IVDD and his back legs are starting to fail. Is it reasonable to do palliative care now or do I subject him to more surgeries to fix his eye? He still eats plays but seems to be slowing down pretty quickly.

Tumor of the Eye Average Cost

From 367 quotes ranging from $200 - $3,500

Average Cost

$1,600