What is ocular melanoma and what are ocular melanoma symptoms?
We usually associate melanoma as being a type of skin cancer that causes moles and skin tumours. However there is another type of melanoma that develops in the eye, known as ocular melanoma. It is the most common form of eye cancer – despite being incredibly rare.
What is ocular melanoma?
Ocular melanoma develops in the same way as other melanomas with the pigment cells in the back of the eye starting to change. There are three main types including Uveal which affects the iris, Chorodial which begins in the blood vessels and Conjunctival which may appear as a raised tumour on the eye.
It is not thought to be related to sun exposure, but ocular melanoma does affect fair skinned and blue eyed people more frequently than others. Usually people aged over 55 are most commonly affected.
In many cases, ocular melanoma is picked up by opticians during routine eye examinations, but there are some melanoma symptoms that you may notice yourself that may lead you to visit your doctor for a second opinion.
Ocular melanoma symptoms
In many cases, there are no obvious signs or symptoms of eye melanoma, but the following may occur:
– Blurred vision or vision that is getting progressively worse
– Bulging eyes
– Flashing lights or disturbances such as shadows.
– Changes in the colour of the eye or darker patches within the iris
– Red and painful eyes that don’t settle down
– Spots or dark patches on the eye – especially on the whites. These may even be raised.
– Changes that occur on one eye only.
Even if you have no ocular melanoma symptoms, it still makes sense to see an optician regularly who may be able to pick up the signs before you do. This type of cancer does tend to spread to the liver, which makes it especially hard to treat, so the earlier it is found the better. Treatment does not always involve the removal of the eye which is carried out as a last resort only. Drug therapies, laser therapies and surgical removal of tumours are also possible.
You may not be able to prevent this type of melanoma in the same way as you can skin cancers, but regular checks will alleviate any concerns you might have.
Read here more about Ocular melanoma treatments.