Many different types of cancer affect the eye. Some affect the structures around the eye: for example, rhabdomyosarcoma affects the eye muscles. Others affect the eye itself: these are called intraocular cancers. They include types of lymphoma and melanoma, and retinoblastoma and medulloepithelioma, which often affect children.
What's eye cancer?
The eye ‘globe' is what we think of as the ‘eyeball'. It comprises parts that filter light, allow the eye to focus, keep the eyeball nourished and connect to the brain to allow us to see.
Eye cancer is any cancer that affects the eyeball or surrounding tissues. As mentioned, quite a number of different cancers can affect the eye.
How common is eye cancer?
Eye cancer is rare. Around 60 people are affected by eye cancer in Victoria each year.
Causes of eye cancer
In most cases of this type of cancer, the cause is not exactly known.
Signs and symptoms of eye cancer
Eye cancer can cause reduced vision or changes in how you see things. A dark spot on the iris should be checked by a doctor. Seeing squiggles passing over the field of vision can be a sign of cancer, but are also common in normal ageing.
If you have one of these symptoms, but haven't been diagnosed with this cancer, remember that it's rare, and your symptom is likely to be due to something else. However, see your doctor if any symptom persists for more than 2 weeks.
Expert content reviewers:
Melisa Darby, cancer nurse, RN,BN, Grad. Cert. Cancer Nursing