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Confidently Treating Eye Cancer


Eye cancer is a very rare cancer. It affects less than 3,000 Americans per year. The most common type is ocular melanoma, which begins in the pigmented cells within the eye. Other forms of eye cancer include intraocular lymphoma and retinoblastoma. Intraocular lymphoma affects adults, while retinoblastoma occurs in infants and young children.

Dignity Health offers personal care for head and neck cancers, such as eye cancer, in the Bay Area. From our advanced treatments to understanding doctors and nurses, receive the level of care you deserve at our hospitals and cancer centers. To meet with a specialist, Find a Doctor online today.

Eye Cancer Symptoms

Eye cancer rarely causes symptoms in early stages of the disease. It usually starts in parts of the eye you cannot see. Often, eye doctors find eye cancer during regular exams before symptoms develop. When symptoms develop, the most common one is painless vision loss.

Other signs and symptoms of eye cancer include:

  • Blurry vision
  • Change in position of your eyeball within the socket
  • Crooked, wandering eye (strabismus)
  • Change in size, color, or shape of your pupil
  • Iris discoloration (changes in eye color)
  • Loss of part of your field of vision
  • Seeing flashes of light, spots, squiggly lines, and floaters
  • Unexplained increase of eye pressure (glaucoma) 

These symptoms can also be present with more common, noncancerous conditions. Regardless of the cause, your health and vision depend on a timely diagnosis and treatment.

If you experience sudden vision loss or changes in vision, call 9-1-1 for immediate medical care. It could signal a potentially life-threatening condition, such as stroke.

Eye Cancer Causes

Health experts don’t fully understand what exactly causes eye cancer. However, potential risk factors include:

  • Caucasian race
  • Certain gene mutations, including BAP1 and partial deletion of Chromosome 13
  • Certain inherited conditions, including dysplastic nevus syndrome and oculodermal melanocytosis or nevus of Ota
  • Exposure to sunlight or other forms of UV light
  • Light-colored eyes
  • Male gender
  • Older age

Eye Cancer Treatment & Prevention at Dignity Health

Treatment for eye cancer depends on the location and size of the eye cancer. Tumor size and the stage of eye cancer will determine how extensive any surgery needs to be.

Ocular melanoma is often treated with use of high dose radiation therapy (plaque brachyradiotherapy). In advanced cases, it may be necessary to remove the entire eye. Other strategies apply heat, cold, even laser energy to the tumor. Dignity Health doctors sometimes combine radiation therapy with laser therapy. 

You can lower your risk of eye cancer by reducing sun exposure. This includes wearing UV-protective sunglasses and hats when you are in the sun.

Genetic studies can help determine if your children are at risk for developing retinoblastoma.

If you are concerned about your risk of eye cancer in the Bay Area, meet with a doctor at Dignity Health today.

Oncologists at Dignity Health Bay Area hospitals offer comprehensive care for eye cancer in San Francisco, Santa Cruz, and Redwood City.