• Hemangioma Diagnosis and Treatment

    Written By: David Turbert
    Reviewed By: Stephen N Lipsky MD
    Apr. 25, 2018

    Your ophthalmologist can diagnose hemangiomas based upon their appearance. More testing is usually not necessary.

    Treatment of the hemangioma depends upon the location, size and severity of the lesion. It also depends on whether it is causing vision problems. Not all hemangiomas need treatment. But hemangiomas near the eye should be watched to make sure they do not cause vision problems.

    If a hemangioma is causing vision problems, several treatment options are available. 

    Steroid medications

    Steroid medications are often used to treat hemangiomas. The steroids work by causing the blood vessels of the hemangioma to shrink. The steroids can be given by mouth, injected into the tumor or applied to its surface. 

    Potential side effects of steroids include:

    These side effects are unusual with close monitoring.

    Propranolol

    Propranolol is a medication that has fewer side effects than steroids. Propranolol can be taken by mouth or can be applied to the lesion if the hemangioma is small and thin. 

    Propranolol can affect heart rate and blood pressure. Careful monitoring at the beginning of treatment is sometimes needed. This may include a brief admission to the hospital.

    Laser treatment

    A laser can sometimes stop growth, diminish size or lighten the color of superficial hemangiomas. 

    Surgery

    Surgery is generally reserved for small, well-defined hemangiomas that are under the skin surface. Most hemangiomas in the eye socket do not need intervention.  But if they grow to the point that they are pressing on the optic nerve or displacing the eye, then treatment is needed.