Ocular oncology is a subspecialty of ophthalmology that deals with cancer and the eye. Both adults and children can develop cancers in the eye, which can develop as eye tumors or as a result of cancer elsewhere in the body that spreads to the eye.

Tumors in the eye can involve the eyelid, conjunctiva (white part of the eye), iris (colored part of the eye) or posterior segment of the eye.

Cancer occurring anywhere in the body can affect the eye directly by spread or by other manifestations. The eye can also be involved by effects of chemotherapy, radiation therapy or effects from bone marrow transplantation (like graft versus host disease).

Diseases and conditions

UofL Physicians – Eye Specialists treats the following ocular oncology conditions:

  • Melanoma of the eye
  • Retinoblastoma
  • Lymphoma
  • Hemangioma
  • Nevus
  • Metastasis to the eye
  • Radiation retinopathy
  • Chemotherapy toxicity to the eye
  • Graft versus host disease
  • Rarer eye cancers

Treatments and services


Treatment of primary and secondary eye cancers includes local treatment, chemotherapy, radiation therapy or surgery. Treatment is tailored to each patient.


Retinoblastoma is the most common eye cancer occurring in children less than 5-years-old. There is a whole group of physicians that jointly treat these children and it includes a pediatric oncologist, radiation oncologist, endovascular neurosurgeon and genetic counselors.

Learn more about the treatment of retinoblastoma

Melanoma of the eye

Melanoma is the most common primary eye cancer in adults and occurs in 2,500 patients per year in the United States.

Approximately 8% of individuals have a mole in the front or the back of the eye. Moles in the eye, just like in the skin, are at risk of changing to melanoma which is cancerous, and hence they need to be monitored in a periodic manner.

Learn more about the treatment of melanoma of the eye

Other eye tumors

Other eye tumors include tumors in the eyelid, conjunctiva, iris or posterior segment of the eye and include:

  • Pigmented tumors
  • Vascular tumors
  • Lymphoid tumors
  • Neural tumors

Eye manifestations of systemic cancer

These can include metastasis to the eye (which can be treated with local therapy, chemotherapy or radiation therapy), side effects of chemotherapy, side effects of radiation therapy or secondary effects from bone marrow transplantation (like graft versus host disease).

Goals of treatment

The goals of treatment in order are:

  1. Save the person’s life.
  2. Save the eye.
  3. Save and maximize vision.

Accepted insurance

UofL Physicians participates in most major health plans in Kentucky. Coverage may vary by specialty. Coverage limitations are dependent on the terms of your personal health plan. This is not a guarantee that all services you receive will be covered by your health plan. Review your health plan provider directory and/or consult with your plan to confirm coverage.

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