It is the pigment that gives your skin its color. Your eyes also have cells that produce melanin and you may develop melanoma. Eye melanoma is also called ocular melanoma.
Most ocular melanoma occurs in the part of the eye that you cannot see when looking at yourself in the mirror. This makes ocular melanoma detectable. Also, ocular melanoma often causes no early signs or symptoms.
There is a treatment for melanoma of the eye. Treatment for some small eye melanomas may not interfere with your vision. However, treatment of large ocular melanomas usually results in some loss of vision.
Eye cancer symptoms
Ocular melanoma may not cause signs and symptoms. When they occur, signs and symptoms of melanoma of the eye may include:
– The idea of flashes or pieces of dust in the vision (vessels)
– develops a black spot on the iris
– A change in the shape of the dark circle (pupil) in the center of the eyes
– Weak or poor vision in one eye
– Loss of peripheral vision
When to consult a doctor
Make an appointment with your doctor if you have signs or symptoms that worry you. Sudden changes in your vision signal an emergency, so seek immediate treatment in these situations.
Causes of eye cancer
The cause of ocular melanoma is unclear. Doctors know that melanoma of the eye occurs when errors develop in the DNA of healthy cells in the eye. These DNA errors cause cells to grow and multiply out of control. So the mutated cells continue to live when they should normally die. Mutated cells accumulate in the eye and form ocular melanoma.
Where does eye melanoma occur?
Eye melanoma usually develops in the cells of the middle layer of the eye (uvea). The uvea has three parts and each can be affected by melanoma of the eye:
– Iris, which is the colored part in front of the eye
– The choroid layer, which is the layer of blood vessels and connective tissue between the sclera and the retina at the back of the uvea.
– The ciliary body, which is located in front of the uvea and which pumps clear water (aqueous humor) into the eye.
– Eye melanoma can also occur on the outside of the front of the eye (conjunctiva), in the cavity around the eyeball and on the eyelid. Although these types of facial melanoma are very rare.
Risk factors for developing eye cancer
Risk factors for primary melanoma of the eye include
Bright eye color
People with blue or green eyes have a higher risk of eye melanoma.
To be white
White people have a higher risk of facial melanoma than people of other colors
The risk of facial melanoma increases with age.
An inherited skin disease
A condition called dysplastic nevus syndrome, which causes abnormal moles, can increase the risk of developing melanoma on the skin and in the eyes.
In addition, people with abnormal pigmentation of the skin in the eyelids and adjacent tissues and increased pigmentation of the uvea, known as ocular melanocytosis, also have an increased risk of developing melanoma. eye.
Exposure to Ultraviolet (UV) rays
The role of ultraviolet exposure in ocular melanoma is unclear. There is some evidence that UV exposure, such as sunlight or tanning beds, may increase the risk of ocular melanoma.
A genetic mutation
Some genes passed from parents to children can increase the risk of facial melanoma.
Complications of eye cancer
Complications of facial melanoma may include:
Increased pressure in the eye (glaucoma).
Growing ocular melanoma can cause glaucoma. Signs and symptoms of glaucoma may include eye pain and redness, as well as blurred vision.
Loss of vision
Large ocular melanomas often cause vision loss in the affected eye and can cause complications, such as retinal detachment, which also causes vision loss.
Small eye melanomas can cause some vision loss if they occur in important parts of the eye. You may have trouble seeing in the center or to the side of your vision. Advanced ocular melanomas can lead to permanent vision loss.
Ocular melanoma that spreads throughout the eye. Ocular melanoma can spread outside the eye and to distant areas of the body, including the liver, lungs, and bones.
Uveal melanoma. Fort Washington, Pa.: National Comprehensive Cancer Network. .
Bowling B. Eye tumors. In: Kanski’s Clinical Ophthalmology: A Methodology. 8th ed. Edinburgh, UK: Elsevier, Ltd.; Year 2016.
Harbor JW, et al. Early management of uveal and conjunctival melanomas. Accessed July 8, 2018.
Intraocular (uveal) melanoma symptoms, tests, prognosis, and grades (PDQ). National Cancer Institute.