Ocular Complications of Radiotherapy

  • Mitchell Kamrava
  • James Lamb
  • Vidal Soberón
  • Tara A. McCannelEmail author


Although radiation therapy has become the treatment of choice for intraocular malignancies, there are numerous posttreatment complications of relevance to the ocular oncologist and referring ophthalmologist. Ocular complications associated with radiotherapy are well known, and the incidence of reported complications is highly variable. Complications depend not only on tumor size and location but also on radiation planning and surgical technique, which may vary between treatment centers. Anterior segment complications occur in 4–23% of treated patients with reported enucleation rates for neovascular glaucoma as high as 12% after treatment. Radiation-induced cataract develops in 8–83% by 5 years postradiation, and radiation retinopathy may occur in at least 10–63% of treated eyes, if not more over time. Optic neuropathy has been reported in up to 16% of patients. All of these complications affect visual acuity, and 26–62% of treated eyes experience a loss of at least two Snellen lines. Although cataract surgery for radiation-induced cataract may be effective in improving visual acuity, other treatment modalities, such as intravitreal triamcinolone or bevacizumab injections, hyperbaric oxygen treatments, and laser photocoagulation, for radiation-induced retinopathy, maculopathy, and optic neuropathy appear to be far less effective. Exudation and release of angiogenic factors from the irradiated tumor (i.e., “toxic tumor syndrome”) can be successfully treated by ablating or resecting the offending tumor.


Radiation retinopathy Radiotherapy Brachytherapy Proton beam therapy Macular edema Choroidal melanoma Intra ocular radiation blocking Anti-VEGF 


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mitchell Kamrava
    • 1
  • James Lamb
    • 1
  • Vidal Soberón
    • 2
  • Tara A. McCannel
    • 3
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of Radiation OncologyUniversity of CaliforniaLos AngelesUSA
  2. 2.Department of Retina/OncologyJules Stein Eye InstituteLos AngelesUSA
  3. 3.Ophthalmic Oncology Center, Jules Stein Eye Institute, Department of OphthalmologyUniversity of CaliforniaLos AngelesUSA

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