Eye melanoma is a type of cancer that develops in melanocytes found in your eye. Melanocytes produce melanin, the pigment that gives your eyes, skin, and hair their color. Eye melanoma tumor can interfere with vision, depending on its size and its exact location in the eye.
But in most cases, melanomas of the eye aren’t visible and don’t produce symptoms at the beginning. Treatment of eye melanoma may involve radiation, surgery to remove the tumor, or surgery to remove the whole affected eye if the tumor is large.
Symptoms of eye melanoma
Eye melanoma may not cause any symptoms, especially in its early stages. Because melanoma can be asymptomatic, it’s important to have eye exams every year.
If symptoms are present, they may include the following:
- a dark spot (or spots) on the iris;
- vision problems, e.g. blurred vision or double vision;
- a sensation of flashing lights;
- blind spots in the peripheral vision;
- a change in the shape of the pupil;
- redness, swelling, or pain in the eye.
The symptoms usually affect one eye.
If you have experienced any of the symptoms listed above, or any changes in your vision, you should see an ophthalmologist.
Risk factors for developing eye melanoma
Eye melanoma is a rare type of cancer, but certain groups of people are at a higher risk of developing the disease. Factors that increase the risk of developing eye melanoma include the following:
- having light color of the eyes, e.g. blue, green, or grey;
- being of Caucasian descent;
- being aged older than 55;
- excess exposure to natural sunlight and artificial sunlight (such as tanning beds);
- dysplastic nevus syndrome, an inherited skin condition in which a person has many abnormal moles.
Certain types of cancer, e.g. liver cancer, can spread to the eye and cause secondary eye melanoma.
Treatment of eye melanoma
Treatment of the disease depends on the size and location of the tumor and may involve the following:
- radiation therapy;
- laser therapy;
- surgery to remove the tumor and some of the surrounding tissue, if the tumor isn’t large;
- surgery to remove the whole affected eye, if the tumor is large and/or involves the optic nerve.
Treatment may result in a certain degree of vision loss or complete vision loss in the affected eye.
Although eye melanoma is rare, it’s important to have annual eye exams to check for this and other eye problems and wear high-quality sunglasses with UV protection when out in the sun.
This article is purely for informational purposes. Do not self-medicate, and in all cases consult a certified healthcare professional before using any information presented in the article. The editorial board does not guarantee any results and does not bear any responsibility for harm that may result from using the information stated in the article.
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