Eye Cancer: Risk Factors


Anything that increases your risk of getting a disease is called a risk factor. Having a risk factor does not mean that you will get cancer; not having risk factors doesn't mean that you will not get cancer. People who think they may be at risk should discuss this with their doctor.


Risk factors for intraocular melanoma include the following:

  • Older age
  • Being Caucasian
  • Having a fair complexion (light skin) or green or blue eyes
  • Being able to tan


Although retinoblastoma may occur at any age, it usually occurs in children younger than 5-years-old. 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.

Retinoblastoma is sometimes caused by a gene mutation passed from the parent to the child. Retinoblastoma that is caused by an inherited gene mutation is called hereditary retinoblastoma. It usually occurs at a younger age than retinoblastoma that is not inherited. Retinoblastoma that occurs in only one eye is usually not inherited. Retinoblastoma that occurs in both eyes is always inherited. When hereditary retinoblastoma first occurs in only one eye, there is a chance it will develop later in the other eye.