Eye Melanoma also known as Ocular Melanoma is a type of cancer that exists in the cells, the ones that specifically produce melanin. Melanin is a pigment that gives color to a person’s skin.
Now if you are wondering why it is so difficult to detect eye melanoma, the answer is pretty simple. It is because it doesn’t develop in the visible part of the eye.
Let’s know more about eye melanoma and dive deep into the eye melanoma causes and treatment along with other information.
What are the symptoms?
In general, there are no visible symptoms of eye melanoma as such, and only eye care professionals can diagnose it. However, most of the time a person can encounter one of the following signs and symptoms-
- A dark spot growing in the iris
- Change in pupil shape
- The vision of one eye gets blurred
- Peripheral vision loss
- Watery eyes
- Seeing dots, circles, or clouds in front of the eye (floaters)
What are the Eye melanoma causes?
There are no particular causes of eye cancer, but doctors have a theory that if errors develop in the DNA of an eye cell, the chances of having eye melanoma increases. DNA errors command the cells to multiply at a higher rate, which leads to mutated cells living more than their actual life. All these cells get accumulated which in turn causes eye melanoma.
Mostly this disease occurs in the Uvea part of the eye. Uvea is the middle layer of the eye. Following are the three parts of the Uvea that get affected due to eye melanoma-
- An Iris is a colored portion in front of the eye
- The Choroid layer is a layer of blood vessels and connective tissues. It exists between Sclera and Retina.
- The Ciliary body discharges transparent liquid into the eye. It is situated in front of the Uvea.
What are the risk factors?
Here are some of the common risk factors-
- Light color eyes are more exposed to this eye condition.
- Increasing age is an important factor in exposure to eye cancer.
- Skin conditions like Dysplastic nevus syndrome enhance the chances of developing eye melanoma.
- Pigmentation in the eyelids and uvea contributes to the development of eye melanoma.
- Exposure to UV rays may add to the risk factor too.
- Some inherited genes through family history.
- White people are more prone to eye cancer.
What are the complications?
Increasing eye melanoma also increases pressure within the eye, which can even cause glaucoma. Symptoms of glaucoma are eye redness, eye pain, and blurred vision. Small eye melanomas do not create any serious complications, however, large eye melanomas can cause complete vision loss. Sometimes eye melanoma can spread to other body parts also like the liver, lungs, and bones.
How to diagnose eye melanoma?
If a doctor suspects eye cancer, they might suggest a few tests to confirm. In most cases, doctors recommend an ultrasound, as it can tell the thickness of the eye tumor by producing the inside image of the eye through high-frequency sound waves.
The next one is Fluorescein angiography, the yellow dye is injected through veins and a special camera takes pictures as the dye circulates into the eyes. It highlights the blood vessels in the image.
Fluorescein angiography and fundus autofluorescence will give us a detailed picture of internal structures of your eye. Sometimes biopsy is performed to understand more details about the tumor.
Eye melanoma treatment depends on the place and size of the eye melanoma. Here are the following treatment-
- Radiation therapy
If your eye melanoma is small or medium-sized then this therapy is suitable. High-powered energy is used to eliminate cancer cells. Radiation therapy is given for several days.
- Laser treatment
Under this treatment, a laser is used to kill cancer cells. Thermotherapy is also one of the laser treatments that uses an infrared laser.
- Photodynamic therapy
This therapy is a combination of medicine and light. Medicines make the cancer cells weak and light kills them. This therapy is effective in smaller tumors.
- Cold treatment
It is also called Cryotherapy. It is not frequently used, however, sometimes extreme cold treatment is used to eliminate melanoma cells from the eye.
Surgery differs as per the location and size of the eye melanoma. To treat small size eye melanoma, a band of tissues surrounding the melanoma is removed. To cure large eye tumors Enucleation is used. Enucleation means removing the whole eye. Afterward, the implant is injected and attached to the muscles controlling movement.
However, as it is said, “Prevention is better than cure,” you should keep a check on the symptoms. If you witness any of the eye melanoma symptoms, you can visit PVRI – the best eye hospital in Hyderabad. The specialized team of doctors can help you with eye related problems, which can help you maintain better eye health.