Ocular melanoma is a cancer that typically develops in the uvea – the layer between the retina and sclera. While not as common as other types of skin cancer, ocular melanoma can result in vision loss and is a risk factor for glaucoma and retinal detachment. Untreated, cancer of the eye can metastasize, spreading to other areas of the body like the bones, liver or lungs and possibly even causing death.

If you have been diagnosed by another doctor with ocular melanoma, or if you have noticed any troubling changes in your vision that you’d like to have checked out, please contact California Retina Associates online. You can also call our San Diego ophthalmologists at San Diego retina specialists, please call (619) 425-7755 or (760) 352-7755 today to schedule your initial consultation.

Identifying Ocular Melanoma

Ocular melanoma is very difficult to detect because it develops in the area of the eye that is not visible when looking in a mirror. Also, it is often asymptomatic. Ocular melanoma may first be noticed by your eye doctor during a routine visit before any symptoms are present. Because this disease is more common with age, it is one of the many reasons you should visit your eye doctor once a year after the age of 60.

If you are under the age of 60 but have very light blue or green eyes, inherited skin conditions or abnormal skin pigmentation involving the eyelids, these factors could indicate you have a higher chance of developing ocular melanoma and you should have regular eye exams.

Signs and symptoms you may notice at home include:

  • Floaters and flashers
  • A growing dark spot on the iris or conjunctiva (thin membrane covering the front of the eye and the inside of the eyelids)
  • Changes in pupil shape
  • Loss of peripheral vision
  • Increased vision difficulties in one eye

If you notice any of these signs it is important that you contact one of our San Diego area ophthalmology offices right away. Melanoma can spread quickly to other areas of the body and result in a loss of life if not treated in time.

Treating Ocular Melanoma

Surgery may be recommended to remove the melanoma and a small area of surrounding healthy tissue. In its earliest stages, eye cancer may respond well to radiation treatment following the removal of the cancerous cells. Another option is laser treatment to kill the melanoma cells, sometimes in combination with radiation therapy. A less-commonly used treatment involves the use of cryotherapy, or extreme cold, to destroy cells in small melanomas.

When ocular melanoma is allowed to progress, a complete removal of the eye (enucleation) may be necessary to prevent the cancer from spreading. Which of these options is best for you is something that will be determined during your initial examination with our renowned doctors at one of our office locations.

Contact California Retina Associates

To schedule your next examination with one of our San Diego retina specialists, please call (619) 425-7755 or (760) 352-7755 today. We welcome patients living throughout the San Diego area.