Ocular Oncology Service

Founded in 1989, the Ocular Oncology Service at New York Eye and Ear Infirmary of Mount Sinai (NYEE) diagnoses and treats all types of tumors of the eye with a team of highly experienced specialists backed by the most advanced imaging technology anywhere. Using the latest diagnostics and treatment options, we are committed to ensuring positive outcomes for patients with lesions of the eyelid, conjunctiva, iris, retina, choroid, sclera, optic nerve, and orbit.

The Ocular Oncology Service is among a very small number of full-service clinics with the specialized skills and personnel needed to treat rare eye cancers in both adults and children. These cancers can include but are not limited to melanomas, nevi, squamous cell carcinomas, retinoblastomas, lymphomas, and hemangiomas. Tumors can occur on the surface of the eye, inside the eye, in the eyelid skin, and behind the eye in the orbit. They can affect one or both eyes. They can start within the eye (primary cancers) or come from other parts of the body as spread to the eye or orbit (secondary cancers).

The advanced treatment options available at the Ocular Oncology Service typically enable patients to maintain most of their vision and prevent loss of their eye. Many of the treatments currently used were developed by Paul T. Finger, MD, at NYEE, including palladium-103 ophthalmic plaque radiation therapy for intraocular “choroidal” and “iris” melanoma. Dr. Finger was the first to use Mitomycin and interferon chemotherapy eye drops to treat conjunctival melanoma. Recent work shows that topical interferon drops can cure giant conjunctival squamous carcinomas without surgery. On the Ocular Oncology Service, almost all squamous carcinomas are cured with eye drops alone.

Team Approach to Care

Because ocular cancers are often complex and systemic in nature, our experts work closely with multiple specialists at Mount Sinai. These include radiation oncologists, oncologists, pediatric oncologists, and hematologists. Within NYEE’s own network, specialists in oculoplastic and reconstructive surgery help optimize our patients’ appearance and function in cases that require eyelid tumor repair. We also have the only remaining eye pathology department in the tri-state area. Our ophthalmic pathologists ensure accurate diagnoses and the most sophisticated analyses of eye tumor biopsies. If the tumor results from inflammation or infection, the Uveitis Service runs parallel to the Ocular Oncology Service so our highly skilled uveitis specialists are immediately brought in to coordinate patient care.

Applying Advanced Technology to Fight Eye Cancer

No resource is more important to the precise diagnosis of our patients, than imaging. Here, we have access to NYEE’s Advanced Retinal Imaging Laboratory, which has worked closely with industry to build a state-of-the-art facility unsurpassed in its technical capabilities. The lab’s tools include spectral domain and swept source optical coherence tomography (OCT) and OCT angiography, ophthalmoscopic evaluations of the inside of the eye, ultrasonography, widefield and high speed fluorescein and ICG angiography, quantitative fundus autofluorescence, transillumination of interior eye organs, anterior segment OCT, confocal imaging of the cornea, and adaptive optics scanning light ophthalmoscopy (AOSLO). And through our partnership with Mount Sinai, we have ready access to radiology’s MRI, CT, and PET/CT scans.

Our clinicians are also actively involved, along with colleagues at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, in uncovering new therapies and surgical approaches to cancers of the eye. This ongoing research gives our patients access to leading-edge treatments that can help to safely and effectively manage their tumors while significantly improving their quality of life.