Houston Methodist. Leading Medicine.
Houston Methodist. Leading Medicine

Eye Cancer

About Eye Cancer

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Eye cancer is a general term used to describe numerous cancers that can originate in different parts of the eye. In 2012, more than 2,600 adults and about 300 children will be diagnosed with some form of eye cancer; fortunately, the average five-year survival rate for these cancers is well over 50 percent.1

Methodist Cancer Center is dedicated to providing the resources you need for the diagnosis and treatment of eye cancer.

What Is Eye Cancer?
Cancer is the result of a mutation that causes cells in the body to grow out of control. A buildup of extra cells in or around the eye can result in the formation of tumors, which may be either malignant (cancerous) or benign (noncancerous).

The types of eye cancer fall into four main categories:

  • Intraocular Melanoma (also called melanoma of the eye or uveal melanoma): This is the most common form of eye cancer in adults; it occurs when cells in the middle layer of the eye called melanocytes grow uncontrollably.
  • Intraocular Lymphoma (also called lymphoma of the eye): This is a non-Hodgkin lymphoma (cancer of the lymphocytes, a type of cell that forms part of the immune system) that originates in the cells of the eye.
  • Orbital and Adnexal Cancers: These cancers develop in the muscles, nerves and skin around the eyeball.
  • Retinoblastoma: This is the most common eye cancer in children, originating in the retina, the light-sensitive tissue at the back of the eyeball.


What Are the Risk Factors?
The risk factors for eye cancer include:

  • Having fair skin and light-colored eyes
  • Certain inherited conditions such as dysplastic nevus syndrome (a condition characterized by the presence of multiple irregularly shaped moles)
  • Exposure to natural or artificial sunlight (such as tanning beds) over extended periods of time
  • A weakened immune system (for intraocular lymphoma)
  • Cancer in another part of the body that has spread to the eye

Learn more about eye cancer:

For more information about eye cancer treatment at the Methodist Cancer Center or to make an appointment, call us at 713-790-2700.

1 American Cancer Society