What is Eye Cancer (Ocular Melanoma)? And Its Types?

“The type of progressive eye cancer depends on the cell it’s developed in.”

Cancer of the eye is referred to as ocular cancers or melanoma. If the development is inside of the eye, it is referred to as intraocular where extraocular is cancer at the exterior.

Here’s all you need to know about an eye cancer:-

Intraocular cancers

  • Melanoma of the eye

The cancerous cells in the melanoma are known as melanocytes that give certain pigment or colouring. Melanocytes are commonly found in our skin, organ lining, lips and the eye and most of the melanoma starts in the skin. However, rare and extreme cases do involve their development in various other parts of the body including the eye. Eye melanoma can start in the;

  • Eyeball (globe)

  • Eyelids

  • Conjunctiva (anterior covering of the eyeball)

Oncologist in Dubai and eye doctors categorises eyeball melanomas based on the microscopic appearance of the cancerous cell. There are three types:

  • Spindle cell melanomas are formed from elongated and stretched out cells.

  • Non-spindle cell melanomas (epithelioid) which is developed from oval or circular cells that are rather difficult to treat posing further threat of metastasising to other parts of the body.

  • A mixed cluster of spindle and non-spindle cells.

For the treatment of melanoma in the eyeball, the patient undergoes either surgery or radiotherapy or perhaps both if need be.

  • Choroidal or uveal melanoma

Although eyeball melanoma is rare, it’s among the most common type of eye cancer in adults. A typical ocular would identify as choroidal or uveal melanoma due to its development in the tissue at the central layer of the eyeball; the choroid hence the name.

The layer is also known as the uvea which includes the ciliary body and the iris.Iris melanomas can be easily spotted which allow the doctors to diagnose them in early stages of development. The metastasis is slow and rarely occurs in other parts of the body.

  • Conjunctiva & eyelid melanoma

Conjunctival and eyelid cancers are extraocular which means they occur outside of the eyeball and are extremely rare. The treatment is slightly different as to the melanoma inside the eye.

Lymphoma of the eye

Lymphoma mostly occurs in the lymph nodes that are part of the human immune system. It’s rare of the lymphoma to happen inside of the eye however, not impossible and occurrence is termed as primary intraocular lymphoma.

Most of these intraocular lymphomas are non-Hodgkin type and occurrence is common among the individuals with immune deficiency. It can occur in people who have:


  • Had organs transplanted and taking certain medications or drugs to keep their immune system sustained

  • Elderly with a compromised immune system

Treatment of intraocular lymphoma is executed in the same way as of lymphoma’s occurrence in any part of the body.

Rare cancers in children

  • Retinoblastoma

It’s a rare type of eye cancer that mostly occurs among the children under the age of 5.

  • Medulloepithelioma

Yet another rare type of eye tumour occurring mostly in young children is medulloepithelioma which does not metastasise all of a sudden. Surgical removal of the tumour is the treatment course however in severe cases and to prevent the cancer from spreading, the eye itself has to be removed.


Hope this article will help you to understand about the eye cancer.