Eye cancer is rare. There are a number of different cancers that can affect the eye. Eye (ocular) melanoma is the most common and this information is about this type.
Melanoma is a cancer that develops from cells called melanocytes. Melanocytes give our skin its colour. Melanoma usually develops in the skin. But because there are melanocytes in different parts of the body, it can start in other places, such as the eye.
Most eye melanomas start in an area of the eye called the uvea (see below). This is called uveal melanoma. It is the most common type of cancer to affect the eye, although it is still quite rare. Between 500 and 600 people are diagnosed with uveal melanoma in the UK each year. It is more common in people over the age of 50.
Very rarely, melanoma starts in the conjunctiva, which is the outer lining of the eye. This is called conjunctival melanoma.
These two types of eye melanoma are treated in slightly different ways.