What Is Eye Cancer?

Primary eye cancer, meaning it originates in the eye, is very rare. It can start inside the eyeball, on the surface of the eyeball or in the skin cells of the eyelid. Cancer that starts within the eyeball is called intraocular cancer.

Other types of eye cancer include:

  • Intraocular melanoma (uveal melanoma): This is the most common type of eye cancer. It usually develops in the choroid (a layer of blood vessels) or ciliary body (produces aqueous fluid filling the eyeball and controls the shape of the eye’s lens for focusing).
  • Intraocular lymphoma: This is usually a type of non-Hodgkin lymphoma that begins in the eyeball.
  • Eyelid tumors: Basal cell carcinoma is the most common type of eyelid cancer. It can be removed with surgery. Other types of eyelid tumors include squamous cell carcinoma, sebaceous cell carcinoma and malignant melanoma.
  • Conjunctival tumors: The conjunctiva is a membrane that lines the eyelid and eyeball. Conjunctival tumors grow on the surface of the eye and include squamous carcinomas, malignant melanomas and lymphomas.
  • Choroid tumors: Tumors can grow in the choroid, the layer of blood vessels supporting the retina. Tumor types include melanoma (a malignant tumor), choroidal nevus and choroidal osteoma, which are benign tumors.
  • Lacrimal gland tumors: These tumors grow in the glands that produce tears.
  • Retinoblastoma: This is the most common primary eye tumor in children. It is extremely rare in adults.

Eye cancer is rare and requires specialized care. Ocular oncologists use the latest technologies to provide advanced care for eye cancer.