Vascular Tumors of the Eye

Retinal hemangioblastoma (formerly referred to as retinal capillary hemangioma) is most commonly seen in isolation as a single retinal mass in adults, but can also be seen in children or young adults with the Von Hoppel Lindau Syndrome, in which more than one mass is generally observed in the retina. This is a benign tumor that does not metastasize (grow outside the eye).

Patients with this condition typically will notice blurry vision, floaters, or flashes, or sometimes the problem is detected in a patient with no symptoms on a routine eye exam with an optometrist or general ophthalmologist. The mass can cause vision loss through various mechanisms including the leakage of fluid and or cholesterol exudates within and underneath the retina.

Isolated/Solitary/Circumscribed Choroidal hemangioma is a benign choroidal blood vessel mass most commonly seen in adults. It can also be seen in a diffuse form in the setting of Sturge Weber Disease, a congenital condition which is also associated with other eye problems and other problems in other organ systems. In the isolated form, the mass can cause vision loss or can sometimes be detected during a routine exam in an asymptomatic patient. Vision loss usually occurs as a result of induced hyperopia (new onset farsightedness caused by the elevation of the retina from the mass) or fluid underneath the retina caused by inflammation associated with the mass.


In addition to an examination with Dr. Schefler, confirmation of this diagnosis is typically made with various specialized forms of ophthalmic testing, including photographs, ultrasound, fluorescein angiography, and OCT. Treatment is varied depending on many clinical factors such as: how large the mass is, where in the retina it is located, how much inflammation there is, etc. The most common form of treatment (besides observation) is photodynamic therapy (sometimes referred to as “cold laser”), a treatment that was formerly used for age-related macular degeneration but has found a useful niche in this more rare condition.