Eye Cancer - Types and Stages of Eye Cancer

Eye cancer develops in the eye and is a rare disease. The diagnosis is difficult and is usually made during a routine eye examination. Several eye cancer types exist, depending on the structure and the cells involved. The stages of eye tumors range from stage 1 to stage 4.

What is an Eye Cancer?

The eye is a complex organ comprising tissues with significant structural and functional variations. These structures include the conjunctiva, retina, choroid, ciliary body, iris, and lacrimal gland. When the cells of one or more of these structures undergo mutation and start dividing and proliferating uncontrollably, the condition is known as eye cancer. An eye tumor is both life-threatening and vision-threatening and has the potential to metastasize to other organs.

How common is Eye Cancer?

Eye cancer is a rare disease. Most cases of eye cancer are secondary, i.e., the cancer starts in other parts of the body and spreads to the eyes (metastasis). In the United States, the estimated prevalence rate is about 12/100,000 people, while the incidence rate is about 1/100,000 people. In India, the incidence rate of eye tumors among all cancers is about <0.5%. Studies have reported a higher burden of eye tumors in India, and the cases are increasing. The increasing trend may partially be due to better cancer detection techniques, epidemiological transition, and more effective cancer data collection.

What Are the Different Types of Eye Cancer?

Depending on the type of cell it originates from, eye cancer is classified into different types. The following are the different types of eye cancer:

Uveal melanoma

It is one of the most common primary eye cancer types and affects the uvea. The condition may develop in the choroid, ciliary body, or iris. The condition is also subdivided into classes 1 (having low metastatic risk) and 2 (having high metastatic risk). Patients with uveal melanoma have higher metastatic disease-related mortality and visual morbidity.

Intraocular lymphoma

Intraocular lymphoma is an ocular cancer generally considered a part of central nervous system lymphoma. The disease includes primary and secondary intraocular lymphoma. The condition may develop in the optic nerve, Bruch's membrane, vitreous, uvea, and retina. Intraocular lymphoma primarily arises from the B-cell; however, some intraocular lymphoma may also arise from T-cells. Intraocular cancers are tumors inside the eye.

Eyelid and Orbital Cancer

Orbital tumors are benign or malignant lesions that develop in the tissues surrounding the eyes. They may be primary or secondary. This type of eye tumor may be characterized by vascular lesions, cysts, neurogenic tumors, lymphomas, and secondary tumors. Eyelid tumors develop in the eyelid.

Conjunctival tumors

Conjunctival tumors occur in the conjunctiva and are divided into carcinoma in situ, dysplasia, and squamous cell carcinoma. The risk factors for these tumors include immunodeficiency, human papillomavirus (HPV), and exposure to ultraviolet radiation.

Lacrimal gland tumors

Lacrimal gland tumors occur in the lacrimal glands of the eye and constitute about 10% of all orbital tumors. Lacrimal gland tumors are of different types, such as epithelial tumors and lacrimal gland lymphomas.


It is one of the most common cancers in childhood and constitutes about 3% of all childhood malignancies. The condition is characterized by strabismus, leukocoria, red eyes, pain, and reduced vision.

Cancer Of The Eyeball

What are the different stages of Eye Cancer?

Different stages of intraocular melanoma involving the iris are:


Cancer of the eye occurs in any part of the eye. There are multiple eye cancer types. The most common eye cancer types include uveal melanoma, conjunctival cancer, eyelid cancer, and rhabdomyosarcoma. While stage 1 is the early stage or first stage of eye cancer, stage 4 is the last stage of eye cancer.

Frequently Asked Questions

Several types of cells are present in the eye. These cells multiply at a rate determined by the genes. However, due to various factors, such as radiation exposure, genetic information changes or disappears, resulting in uncontrolled multiplication and growth. It leads to eye cancer.

Eye cancer is characterized by blurred vision, loss of vision, red eyes, pain in the eye, bulging, eye irritation, and a lump in the eye.

Eye cancer is a rare disease. Men are at greater risk of developing eye cancer than women. Diagnosis is challenging as the symptoms of eye cancer overlap with various other ocular conditions.

Eye cancer may affect all the organs inside the eyes and surrounding tissues. The structures affected include the conjunctiva, choroid, retina, iris, ciliary body, lacrimal gland, and eyelid.

The 10 diseases of the eye include cataracts, refractory disorders, age-related macular degeneration, glaucoma, retinal detachment, strabismus, retinal cancer, diabetic retinopathy, conjunctivitis, and uveitis.

Uveal melanoma is the most common eye cancer type in adults, while rhabdomyosarcoma is the most common eye cancer type in children.