Eye Cancer (Ocular Melanoma)
See also: L.F. Montgomery Laboratory, Ocular Melanoma Research, Ocular Oncology (Eye Cancer) and Pathology, Ocular Oncology and Pathology Clinical Fellowship, Retinoblastoma
What is Eye Cancer?
Eye tumors are either primary tumors originating within the eye or associated structures or secondary tumors caused by cancers that have spread from other parts of the body. Both may involve the eye, eyelid, orbit and lacrimal glands. Some of the most common eye cancers are:
- Choroidal melanoma
The most common intraocular (inside the eye) tumor in adults and does not come from another cancer in the body. The tumor can be in the iris or in the choroid, the layer of blood vessels between the retina and the white of the eye, the sclera. Symptoms are often silent and found by routine eye exams. A nevus is a benign growth but must be watched to be sure it doesn’t change into a melanoma.
- Choroidal hemangioma
A tumor comprised of blood vessels, which can grow in the choroid, the blood vessel layer beneath the retina.
- Conjunctival tumors
Malignant cancers growing on the outer surface of the eye, including squamous cell carcinoma, malignant melanoma, lymphoma and carcinoma-in-situ.
- Eyelid/Orbital tumors
These tumors can be benign cysts, inflammation or malignant skin cancers, including basal cell, squamous cell, meibomian gland, etc. carcinomas. The tumors are evaluated and treated by physicians in our Oculoplastics section. The tumors, both benign and malignant, occur in children and adults. Examples of childhood tumors are rhabdomyomas and dermoids and adult tumors include hemangiomas, lymphomas, lacrimal gland tumors and cysts.
- Iris and ciliary body tumors
These tumors grow within the iris (colored part of the eye) or behind the iris (ciliary body). Some are cysts or a nevus (benign), though malignant melanomas can occur in this area.
Tumors can appear in the eyelid tissue, tear ducts and the eye itself. In patients with non-Hodgkins lymphoma, symptoms may appear in the eye before they are noted elsewhere and are managed in our Oculoplastics service.
- Retinal tumors
Tumors of the retina, the innermost layer of blood vessels and nerves that serve as the “film” of the eye. Retinoblastoma (RB) is a malignant tumor of the retina that affects mostly children. Retina specialist, G. Baker Hubbard, III, MD, is a nationally recognized specialist in ocular tumors in children.