Houston Methodist. Leading Medicine.
Houston Methodist. Leading Medicine

Diagnosing Eye Cancer

Diagnosing Eye Cancer

Make an Appointment

To make an appointment call 713-790-2700 complete our online registration form.


Symptoms of Eye Cancer
Symptoms vary depending on the type of eye cancer, but may include one or more of the following:

  • Having difficulty seeing or focusing
  • Losing part of your field of vision
  • Seeing flashes of light
  • Seeing spots or “floaters”
  • A dark spot on the iris (the colored part of the eye)

If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, contact your doctor or ophthalmologist right away so that the cause can be diagnosed and treated promptly. Keep in mind that these symptoms may be caused by conditions other than eye cancer.

Diagnostic Tests for Eye Cancer
Your doctor or ophthalmologist will first examine your eyes closely with a lighted instrument called an ophthalmoscope to check for dark spots. Sometimes a thorough eye exam is all that’s needed to diagnose eye cancer; in some cases, one or more of the following tests may be needed:

  • Ultrasound: This test uses sound waves to create a picture of the inside of the eyeball. First the eye is numbed with special eyedrops, then a small wand is held against the eyeball to send out and receive sound waves. The waves create a picture called a sonogram, which the technician can see in real time on a computer screen.
  • Fluorescein Angiography: This test uses a fluorescent dye to show the blood vessels in the eye; it’s most often used to rule out eye problems other than cancer.
  • CT Scan: This imaging method uses X-rays and a computer to create cross-sectional pictures of your eye.
  • MRI: A scanner uses powerful magnets and pulses of radio wave energy to create pictures of your eye; your doctor may order a special dye (contrast material) to be injected to help show differences in the tissues of your eye.

Staging Eye Cancer
If eye cancer is diagnosed, the next step is to determine the extent, or stage, of the disease so that your doctor can devise a course of treatment.

The most common staging system for eye cancer is the American Joint Committee on Cancer (AJCC) “TNM” system, which grades three factors:

  • Size and location of the tumor (T)
  • Whether the tumor has spread to the lymph nodes (N)
  • Whether the cancer has spread to other parts of the body (M)

Because of the wide variety of eye cancers and the large number of possible stages, staging eye cancer can be a complex process. Talk to your doctor to find out how your specific type of eye cancer is staged.

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.