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Ocular Melanoma Difficult to Diagnose

Thursday, January 16, 2014 @ 07:01 AM
Author: Amit Mathur

Cancer of the eye, ocular melanoma, occurs in the uvea, which is behind the retina. It’s difficult to diagnose because it can’t be seen on the outer layer of the eye. It begins in the pigmentation cells that are responsible for the color of hair, skin, and eyes.

Though they can’t be seen, there are some symptoms that can be cause for concern:

  • Developing a dark growth
  • Seeing flashing lights
  • Noticing pupil changes
  • Having poor vision in one eye
  • Loss of side vision
  • Seeing floaters
  • Watering eyes
  • Having a moderate level of pain

Also regular eye exams are necessary for those at higher risk. That includes people who have a combination of the following:

  • Light colored eyes
  • Caucasian
  • Elderly
  • Have a skin disorder
  • Have been exposed to UV light from tanning beds

Ocular melanoma is an aggressive cancer that grows quickly. Early detection is key to saving the eye. Once diagnosed, treatment depends on the size of the growth. Smaller ones can be removed through surgery. It can also be treated with radiation, laser treatment, or cryotherapy to kill the cancer cells.

Larger growths can be more problematic. Surgery may be required to replace the entire eye with an implant. In these cases, which are rare, patients are still high functioning and rely more on the good eye.

When limited to the eye, melanoma has a high survival rate. According to, “6 people per 1 million are diagnosed with ocular melanoma in the U.S. Every year.”

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