What to Do About a Tumor in Your Pet's Eye

What Should You Do About a Tumor in Your Pet's Eye?

Photo by Mariposa Veterinary Wellness Center in Lenexa, KS/ CC BY

Have you ever noticed something unusual about your pet and worried that it might be a serious or terminal health issue? Some pets have eye conditions that might indeed be harmful to their overall health. That is why we’ve put together a list of the most common eye tumors found in cats and dogs and what symptoms they have.

1. Vocabulary

If you are not familiar with some of the terms used, reference this list:

  • Uvea – The part of the eye that is made up of the:
    • Iris – The colored section of the eye
    • Ciliary Body – Connects the iris to the choroid
    • Choroid – Pigmented layer of eyeball between the retina and sclera
  • Conjunctiva – The mucous membrane that covers the front of the eye and lines the inside of the eyelids
  • Glaucoma – Increased pressure within eyeball
  • Melanoma – Malignant growth of melanocytes (cells that look dark because of melanin pigment)
  • Benign – (Of disease) not harmful in effect/opposite of malignant
  • Malignant – (Of disease) very infectious/opposite of benign

2. Dogs

Dogs can get several different types of eye tumors. The most common, including:

Eyelid Tumors

  • Adenoma (Benign)
    • Symptoms:
      • Small bump on eyelid – can look like a wart
      • No hair on growth
    • Action: Varies with condition
  • Adenocarcinoma (Malignant)
    • Symptoms:
      • Growing mass on eyelid
      • May cause pink-eye
    • Action: Varies with condition

Orbital Tumors

  • General Orbital Tumor (Benign or Malignant) – Tumor that occurs in the eye socket (often behind the eye) and causes eye to bulge or impairs vision
    • Symptoms:
      • Protruding eye
      • Swelling of the conjunctiva, cornea, or eyeball
      • Effected eye does not move together
    • Action: Varies with condition/surgical removal of eyeball (recommended)

Cornea Tumors

  • General Cornea Tumor (Malignant)
    • Symptoms:
      • Superficial melanoma at the edge of the cornea
    • Action: Surgical removal of eyeball (recommended)

Uvea Tumors

  • Uveal Melanoma (Malignant) – Occurs most often in dogs
    • Symptoms:
      • Dark spots on iris
      • Pigmented mass visible
      • Change in pupil shape
      • Glaucoma (can lead to blindness)
      • Hyphema (redness)
      • Inflammation on eye
      • Pain from eye
    • Action: Varies with condition/surgical removal of eyeball (recommended)
  • Choroidal Melanoma (Malignant)
    • Symptoms: Symptoms for this condition are rare and hard to find, due to the fact that it occurs near the back of the eye
      • Pet may see flashes of light or distortion
      • Vision loss
    • Action: Visit vet routinely for eye checkups/varies by condition

3. Cats

At the Vet Because of a Tumor in Your Pet's Eye

Photo by Anne Worner / CC BY-SA

Eyelid Tumors

  • Squamous Cell Carcinomas – (Most common in white cats.)
    • Symptoms:
      • Pink, rough and irregular masses
      • Thick, slow-healing sores
    • Action: Varies with condition

Iris Tumors

  • General Iris Melanoma (Malignant)
    • Symptoms:
      • Iris becomes gradually pigmented to a dark color
      • Iris develops an expanding & irregular surface
      • Enlarged eye
      • Glaucoma
    • Action: Surgical removal of eyeball (recommended)

Uvea Tumors

  • Uveal Melanoma (Malignant)
    • Symptoms:
      • Dark spots on iris
      • Pigmented mass visible
      • Change in pupil shape
      • Glaucoma (can lead to blindness)
      • Hyphema (redness)
      • Inflammation on eye
      • Pain from eye
    • Action: Varies with Condition/ Surgical Removal of Eyeball (recommended).
  • Post-Traumatic Sarcoma – Occurs most often with older cats.
    • Symptoms:
      • Long-term inflammation of eyeball
      • Shrinking of eyeball
      • Glaucoma
    • Action: Surgical removal of eyeball (recommended)

If you have noticed something odd or different about your animal’s eye, compare your results to the symptoms of the conditions above and then take a trip to the vet. They will be able to give you an official diagnosis along with next steps and medication.

How often do you check your pet’s eyesight and eye condition at the vet’s?

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