There are two different types of eye cancer, primary intraocular cancer and secondary intraocular cancer.  Primary intraocular cancer originates inside the eyeball, whereas secondary intraocular cancer starts somewhere else in the body and then spreads to the eye. Secondary intraocular cancers are more common that primary intraocular cancers, even though they are not true eye cancers. The most common types of cancer that affect the eye are breast cancer and lung cancer. The most common types of primary intraocular cancer are melanoma and primary intraocular lymphoma.

At the Orbital Surgery Center of Excellence, we treat many type of eye conditions and diseases including eye cancer and orbital tumors. Our team of surgeons uses only the latest technology and most sophisticated techniques to diagnose and treat your condition.

Melanoma of the Eye

Also known as intraocular melanoma, this is a very rare type of cancer but it the most prevalent type of eye cancer in adults.

Melanomas develop from pigment-making cells called melanocytes. When melanoma develops in the eyeball, it is usually in the uvea, which is why these cancers are also called uveal melanomas. About 9 out of 10 intraocular melanomas develop in the choroid, which is part of the uvea.

Nearly all of the remaining intraocular melanomas start in the iris, which also part of the uvea. These are the easiest for the patient and doctor to see because they often start in a pigmented spot on the iris that has been present for many years and then begin to grow. These melanomas usually are slow growing, and they rarely spread to other parts of the body. For these reasons, people with iris melanomas generally have a good prognosis.

Intraocular melanomas are generally made up of 2 different kinds of cells.

  • Spindle cells: These are long, thin cells.
  • Epithelioid cells: These cells are almost round but with some straight edges.

Most tumors are composed of both kinds of cells. Epithelioid tumors are more likely to spread to other organs such as the liver. If you have intraocular melanoma, your doctor can tell you which type of cells were found after a biopsy.

Lymphoma of the Eye

Lymphoma is a type of cancer that starts in immune system cells called lymphocytes. It usually starts in lymph nodes, which are bean-sized collections of immune system cells scattered throughout the body. Lymphomas can also start in internal organs such as the stomach, lungs, and rarely, in the eyes.

There are 2 main types of lymphoma: Hodgkin disease and non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Primary intraocular lymphoma is always a non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Most people with primary intraocular lymphoma are elderly or have immune system problems such as AIDS. Primary intraocular lymphoma is often seen along with lymphoma of the brain.

Other Orbital Cancers

Cancers of the orbit develop from tissues such as the muscle, nerve, and skin around the eyeball and are similar to their counterparts in other parts of the body. For example, cancers of the eyelid are usually skin cancers and can be treated by an oculoplastic surgeon.

Contact the Orbital Surgery Center of Excellence Today

To contact one of our board certified oculoplastic surgeons, please make an appointment online or call our office at  (888) 559-4341.