What are the risk factors for eye cancer?
A risk factor is anything that affects your chance of getting a disease such as cancer. Different cancers have different risk factors. For example, smoking is a risk factor for cancer of the lung and many other cancers.
But risk factors don't tell us everything. Having a known risk factor, or even several risk factors, does not mean that you will get the disease. And many people who get the disease may not have had any known risk factors.
Risk factors for primary intraocular melanoma
The risk of intraocular melanoma is much higher in whites than in African Americans or Asian Americans.
People with light colored eyes also have an increased risk of intraocular melanoma. People with blue eyes are somewhat more likely to develop melanoma of the eye than are people with brown eyes.
Certain inherited conditions
Dysplastic nevus syndrome, in which people have abnormal moles of the skin and an increased risk of skin melanoma, may also increase the risk for developing melanoma of the eye.
People with abnormal brown spots on the uvea (known as oculodermal melanocytosis or nevus of Ota) also have an increased risk of developing eye melanoma.
Eye melanomas can run in some families who do not have these conditions, but this is very rare.
Although too much exposure to sunlight (or sunlamps) has been proposed as a possible risk factor for melanoma of the eye, it has never been proven.
Some studies have suggested that welders, farmers, fishermen, chemical workers, and laundry workers may have a higher risk of eye melanoma, but none of these links has been proven conclusively.
Risk factors for primary intraocular lymphoma
The only known risk factor for primary lymphoma of the eye is having a weakened immune system. Examples include patients with the acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) as well as people who take anti-rejection drugs after organ or tissue transplants.
Last Medical Review: 06/27/2011
Last Revised: 01/18/2013