About Eye Cancer


Eye cancers are growths that form in tissues of and around the eye. Some of the most common types of eye cancers include: At UCLA, comprehensive clinical care for eye cancer is provided primarily through the Ophthalmic Oncology Center, which is facilitated by the Jules Stein Eye Institute.

Types of Eye Cancer

  • Melanoma A rare cancer that begins in cells that make the pigment melanin in the eye.
  • Carcinoma Cancer that begins in tissues that cover structures in the eye.
  • Lymphoma Cancer that begins in immune system cells.
  • Retinoblastoma Cancer that forms in the tissues of the retina (the light-sensitive layers of nerve tissue at the back of the eye). Usually occurs in children younger than 5-years-old.


Choroidal melanoma is the most common primary cancer tumor of the eye in adults. It is usually a pigmented tumor that grows in the blood-vessel layer (choroid) beneath the retina. Choroidal melanoma has no specific symptoms; it is usually detected during a routine eye examination. If untreated, this cancer can spread to other parts of the body.

Prostate IllustrationAnother type of cancer tumor of the eye is Intraocular melanoma, which begins in the middle of three layers of the wall of the eye. The outer layer includes the white sclera (the "white of the eye") and the clear cornea at the front of the eye. The inner layer has a lining of nerve tissue, called the retina, which senses light and sends images along the optic nerve to the brain.


The retina is the nerve tissue that lines the inside of the back of the eye. The retina senses light and sends images to the brain by way of the optic nerve. The tumor may be in one eye or in both eyes. Retinoblastoma rarely spreads from the eye to nearby tissue or other parts of the body. Retinoblastoma is usually found in only one eye and can usually be cured. Although retinoblastoma may occur at any age, it usually occurs in children younger than 5 years of age.