By Matthew Lynch
Melanoma of the eye is one of the more common types of eye cancers and develops in melanocytes (the cells that produce melanin, which produces our skin colour). Whilst it is more common in skin, it can develop in the eye leading to eye cancer (sometimes referred to as choroidal or uveal melanoma).
In most cases, this type of cancer will develop in a part of the eye that isn’t visible from the outside, making it difficult to notice. It can start in the eyeball, the conjunctiva or the eyelid, but the most common starting point is the eyeball, or more specifically, the choroid, which creates the middle layer (the uvea) of your eye.
Treatments are available for these melanomas and depending on the case and the severity of the growth, vision may be unaffected. However, some larger melanomas can cause some vision loss.
The Symptoms of an Eye Melanoma
As mentioned previously, this type of cancer can go undetected due to the location of the melanomas and may only be noticed when someone has an eye test or undergoes laser eye surgery. It is not uncommon for companies to identify more underlying issues in their patients who come in for simple corrective surgery. Early warning signs include loss of peripheral vision, blurry or poor vision in one of your eyes, specks of dust (floaters) in your vision, a change in the shape of your pupil, flashing lights or a dark spot on your iris.
Should you find any of the above or you are concerned about your eye health, seek professional advice immediately.
Diagnosis Eye Melanoma
If your doctor is concerned about your eye health they may recommend further tests are carried out to establish whether or not you are suffering from an eye melanoma. They may conduct eye examinations, which involve looking for enlarged blood vessels on the outside of your eye; if these are present, it could indicate that a tumour is growing inside your eye. They will then look at the inside of your eye using specialist equipment that generates a bright light.
Ultrasounds of the eye may also be used to detect any growths. The eye specialist will place a transducer on the front of your eye or closed eyelid and the high-frequency soundwaves will enable them to spot any anomalies.
Angiograms can also be used in these cases, which involve injecting a dye into your bloodstream. This will enhance the blood vessels of the eye and will allow the doctor to take images of these around the affected area.
Available Treatments for Eye Cancer
How your doctor treats your eye melanoma will depend on the size and location of it. If it’s small and isn’t affecting your vision, they may choose to closely monitor it in case it grows. Or, if it is causing complications, surgery to remove the tumour may be considered. In severe cases where the tumour is particularly large, the eye may be removed (enucleation). Radiotherapy and laser treatments may also be offered as an additional precaution.
If you are concerned about your eye health or you’ve noticed some changes in your vision, get in touch with your eye specialist today to arrange an appointment.
– Matthew Lynch has wanted to be an optician ever since he was 15 years old. Now well on his way to his dream career Matt wants to share his passion with more people. He doesn’t feel there is enough awareness of eye health and hopes his articles will help on that front. Visit Laser Eye Surgery Hub if you’re interested in learning more about laser eye surgery options.