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What Is Ocular Melanoma?

Cancer usually develops on our skin and vital organs. But did you know cancer can also happen in your eyes? Ocular melanoma is a type of cancer that occurs in the eyes, caused by the pigment known as melanin. Although it rarely happens, this kind of cancer is the most common form of adult eye cancer. An average adult has a six-in-a-million chance of developing this condition.

The causes of ocular melanoma are still not conclusively determined. However, experts have postulated that people with light-colored eyes are prone to this condition. Also, people with atypical mole syndrome are also more likely to develop ocular melanoma. Scientists have yet to ascertain if this disease is congenital.

Cancerous growth usually starts out in the middle layer of the eye ball; this is where the delicate blood vessels are. Symptoms are generally unnoticeable at the onset, but as the tumor gets bigger, this is when the indications begin to emerge.

Usually symptoms of ocular melanoma include light flashes and floating black spots. Patients may also experience some changes in the shape of their pupil. In severe cases, it can lead to vision loss.

In a routine eye exam, melanoma can be detected. These cancerous growths are usually visible due to their darker hue compared to their surrounding area or leak fluid. When detected, the eye doctor may perform these additional procedures:

  • Ultrasound: To obtain images of the internal areas of the affected eye/s
  • Fluorescein Angiography: With dye inserted into the bloodstream, the doctor can see if there are blockages or leaks in the inside of the eye/s

 

When these two aforementioned procedures do not provide a definite answer, the doctor may obtain tissue samples for further study.

As for the treatment, ocular melanomas are generally curable by radiation, laser technology, and surgery. Small tumor growths, however, need not to be treated immediately.

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