A dermoid cyst is a non-cancerous growth that can occur on or near the eye. Dermoids often contain skin, hair and/or fat.
There are two kinds of dermoids:
Orbital dermoids. An orbital dermoid is typically found under the skin, near the bones of the eye socket, at end of the eyebrow or next to the nose. The smooth, firm mass is often filled with a greasy, yellow material, but it is not tender to the touch. Orbital dermoids rarely cause vision loss, but they may gradually expand and often require removal.
Epibulbar dermoids. An epibulbar dermoid may be one of two types:
Epibulbar dermoids occur on the surface of the eye.
A physical exam usually reveals an orbital dermoid cyst. Ophthalmologists look for these signs:
Deeper dermoids may need to be identified with other diagnostic tools like computed tomography. An examination by an experienced ophthalmologist at Riley at IU Health can determine the best treatment for each patient.
Your child’s ophthalmologist may recommend removal of the orbital dermoid if there is a concern about vision loss or a risk of rupture. Posterior epibulbar dermoids are connected to the conjunctiva around the eye and sometimes extend into the eye socket. For this reason, they usually cannot be completely removed. Unless vision is affected or the dermoid is bothersome to the child, they may be left untreated. If surgery is necessary, your child’s ophthalmologist or surgeon will remove as much of the dermoid as possible.
A limbal dermoid may need to be surgically removed because of its effect on vision and the shape of the cornea. Removing a limbal dermoid often improves the appearance of the eye and decreases discomfort and irritation. If a limbal dermoid permanently changes the shape of the cornea, the risk of developing amblyopia (lazy eye) remains, so children need to have follow-up care for vision after surgery. Amblyopia can be treated and vision can be improved when the condition is detected early.
Riley at IU Health offers a broad range of supportive services to make life better for families who choose us for their children's care.
The American Academy of Ophthalmology is the largest national membership association of eye doctors. Their website, EyeWiki, contains recent research on the diagnosis and treatment of dermoid cysts.
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