Laser Therapy for Eye Cancer

Lasers are highly focused beams of light that can be used to destroy body tissues. Laser therapy is sometimes used to treat intraocular (eye) melanoma, but it is not used to treat intraocular lymphoma.

Transpupillary thermotherapy (TTT)

This is the most common type of laser treatment for eye melanoma. It uses infrared light to heat and kill the tumor. It works well for small choroidal melanomas because the melanin pigment in these cells absorbs the light energy from the laser.

TTT is only used to treat small choroidal melanomas because the laser might not be able to reach the deeper parts of thicker melanomas. TTT is not usually the main treatment, but it may be used as an adjuvant (additional) treatment after brachytherapy ( plaque radiotherapy). Usually 1 to 3 treatments are given to kill the tumor.

Laser photocoagulation

This treatment uses a highly focused, high-energy light beam to burn tissue. This type of treatment was first tried in the 1950s, but it is rarely used now to treat eye melanoma. It can be effective for very small melanomas, but it is more often used to treat side effects from radiation. Several laser treatments are usually given 6 or 8 weeks apart to treat a tumor.

Possible side effects of laser therapy

As with radiation therapy, the main concern with laser therapy is damage to parts of the eye that could result in loss of vision. The risk depends on the size and location of the tumor.

The American Cancer Society medical and editorial content team
Our team is made up of doctors and master's-prepared nurses with deep knowledge of cancer care as well as journalists, editors, and translators with extensive experience in medical writing.

Last Medical Review: December 9, 2014 Last Revised: February 5, 2016

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