The epidemiologic characteristics of more than 1400 primary eye cancers (ICD-9, site 190) diagnosed among New York State (NYS) residents between 1975 and 1986 are described. Among NYS male residents, the average annual age-adjusted incidence rate was 7.5 per 1,000,000, and among NYS female residents, the rate was 5.4 per 1,000,000 (male:female rate ratio, 1.39). The majority of ophthalmic malignancies were included within three histologic groupings: melanomas (70.4%), retinoblastomas (9.8%), and squamous cell carcinomas (9.2%). The average annual incidence of retinoblastoma among persons in NYS who were less than 5 years of age was 9.5 per 1,000,000 for boys and 8.7 per 1,000,000 for girls (male:female rate ratio, 1.09). The average annual incidence (age-adjusted) of ocular melanomas was 4.9 per 1,000,000 among men and 3.7 per 1,000,000 among women in NYS (male:female rate ratio, 1.32). Expanded knowledge of the epidemiology of ophthalmic cancers can help to develop a foundation on which to monitor disease patterns and can serve to stimulate further etiologic research involving these rare malignancies.