Vascular Tumors of the Eye – Retinal Hemangioblastoma – Retinal Capillary Hemangioma – Houston, TX

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About Vascular Tumors

Tumors within the vascular system of the eye can occur in patients of all ages, from newborns to the elderly. Our oncology team at Retina Consultants of Houston specializes in all tumors of the eye, all of which are rare. There are very few doctors in the United States who solely focus on ocular oncology. We are fortunate to have the board-certified ocular oncologist, Dr. Amy C. Schefler, to lead our oncology team in Houston, TX. We believe that Dr. Schefler and her team are the best destinations for treatment of benign tumors to malignant eye cancers in the state of Texas and the South Central U.S.

After studying at some of the largest and best medical institutions in the United States for ocular oncology, Dr. Schefler is a highly trained vitreoretinal surgeon. When it comes to your health and vision, it is critical to have access to a doctor with knowledge of these rare tumors and exceptional surgical skills for excellent outcomes after surgery (if necessary). Vascular tumors of the eye, such as choroidal hemangiomas and retinal hemangioblastomas, are conditions that require your attention as soon as they are recognized. If you or your child needs a consultation for a vascular tumor or were referred by your doctor, we are here for you. Call and schedule your consultation with Dr. Schefler at your earliest convenience.

Choroidal hemangiomas

Benign choroidal hemangiomas (isolated/solitary/circumscribed hemangiomas) are most commonly found in our adult patients. These tumors can also be seen in a diffuse form in the setting of Sturge-Weber disease (SWS), a congenital condition which is associated with the neurological system, skin, and surrounding capillaries near the eye.

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.

Retinal hemangioblastoma

Retinal hemangioblastoma (formerly referred to as retinal capillary hemangioma) is most commonly seen in isolation as a single retinal mass in adults. It can also be seen in children or young adults with the von Hippel-Lindau syndrome, in which more than one mass is generally observed in the retina. As a benign tumor, a retinal hemangioblastoma does not metastasize (grow outside the eye).

Patients with this condition may notice blurry vision, headaches, nausea, floaters, or flashes in their vision. These growths can cause vision loss through various mechanisms, including the leakage of fluid and/or cholesterol within and underneath the retina. Sometimes this condition is detected with no symptoms on a routine eye exam.

Known Causes

Some patients are born with the likelihood of developing a vascular tumor from rare genetic conditions, such as:

  • Sturge-Weber disease
    This congenital condition can be noted at birth (most likely in a facial birthmark or a port wine stain near or around one or both eyes). It affects the neurological system, skin, and capillaries of the face and eye. Patients who have Sturge-Weber disease have a greater risk of developing glaucoma later in life.
  • von Hippel-Lindau syndrome
    Patients with retinal capillary hemangioblastomas are sometimes diagnosed with von Hippel-Lindau syndrome. If left untreated, these benign vascular tumors may lead to vision loss. 


In addition to an ocular examination with Dr. Schefler, confirmation of this diagnosis can be made with various specialized forms of ophthalmic testing, imaging, ultrasonography, fluorescein angiography (FA), and optical coherence tomography (OCT).

Treatment and Prognosis

Treatment for vascular tumors of the eye may include:

  • Observation/no treatment
  • Laser
  • Cryotherapy (freezing therapy)
  • Injections of medication such as anti-inflammatories into or around the eye
  • Photodynamic therapy (sometimes known as a cold laser)
  • Radiation/radiation surgery
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Taking a closer look

If you have been referred to an ophthalmologist by your primary eye care provider for a vascular tumor in the eye, please call and schedule a consultation today at any Retina Consultants of Houston.

Houston Methodist Ocular Oncology :30 with Amy Schefler, MD (no end logo) from Houston Methodist on Vimeo.

*Individual results are not guaranteed and may vary from person to person. Images may contain models.