Ophthalmology

Contact: Thomas Bersani, MD, Clinical Assistant Professor, Co-Director of Oculoplastic Surgery
Phone: 315 464-5230

Faculty members in the Department of Ophthalmology diagnose and treat all forms of ocular and periocular malignancies. Suspected intraocular choroidal malignant melanomas can be detected during routine ophthalmic examinations and followed photographically with fluorescein angiography and ultrasonography for evidence of progression that might indicate malignancy. Retinoblastomas, intraocular malignancies of childhood, can also be directly visualized within the eye during examination. With early detection, the cure rate for this tumor is excellent. More is known about the genetic basis for cancer in retinoblastoma than in any other human tumor. The exact chromosome location and DNA sequence alterations that cause this tumor can now be characterized. This has been immensely helpful in establishing patient prognosis and in genetic counseling of family members.

Periocular tumors arising from the conjunctiva, eyelid skin, and from within the orbit can also be detected with careful examination. Various treatment modalities including surgery, radiation therapy, electrodesiccation, and cryotherapy are employed in the management of these tumors. Both diagnosis and monitoring of treatment course are enhanced with the use of ophthalmic photography, computed tomography, magnetic resonance imaging and ultrasonography.

Local excision of certain conjunctival malignancies with advanced reconstructive techniques can now be performed, in some instances, to avoid previous techniques involving removal of the eye.

The epidemic of skin carcinoma nationwide has not escaped the ophthalmologists, and we are diagnosing and treating an increasing number of eyelid and periocular cutaneous malignancies. Surgical excision with frozen-section control of the surgical margins, followed by reconstruction with ophthalmic plastic and reconstructive surgical techniques, is generally regarded as the best method for treatment of these conditions. Early detection is crucial.

A multidisciplinary approach to the management of certain tumors, with the ophthalmologist working in conjunction with neurosurgeons, otolaryngologists, plastic surgeons, dermatologists, oncologists, and radiotherapists, can greatly improve the care of patients with these disorders. The University Hospital environment is ideal for this team approach.