Ocular Melanoma Complications

The internationally renowned ophthalmologists at California Retina Associates take ocular melanoma very seriously. We encourage anyone diagnosed with ocular melanoma in San Diego to educate themselves about their treatment options and take steps to manage their condition. Our doctors are very experienced in the care and management of ocular melanoma.

But left untreated, there is the chance that irreversible complications can occur. Ocular melanoma complications include the following:

Vision Loss

One of the most serious complications of untreated ocular melanoma is vision loss. As the melanoma grows larger, it can cause vision loss in the affected eye. Depending on its location, it can cause difficulty with central vision or peripheral (side) vision. The largest and most advanced melanomas cause complete loss of vision.

Retinal Detachment

Sometimes ocular melanoma can lead to retinal detachment, a critical eye condition in which the light-sensitive tissue lining the back of the eye is peeled away from its normal position. What can happen is that the melanoma leaks fluid beneath the retina; this fluid causes the retina to detach from the back wall of the eye. As the retina detaches, symptoms like flashing lights and floating specks can occur.

Elevated Intraocular Pressure

Another complication of ocular melanoma is an increase in intraocular pressure. The balance between the fluid that is produced and circulates inside the eye and the fluid that exits the eye can be thrown off, and as a result the pressure inside the eye can spike. This is known as glaucoma. The optic nerve, which carries information from the eye to the brain, is most vulnerable to damage from glaucoma.

Depending on the type of glaucoma, some cases develop gradually over time and others come on very quickly in an acute attack. The latter type of glaucoma, known as angle-closure glaucoma can cause eye pain and redness.

If left untreated, glaucoma can cause irreversible vision loss. But when elevated intraocular pressure is caught early, complications are usually avoidable.

Melanoma that Spreads Beyond the Eye

Finally, there is a chance that eye melanoma can spread beyond the eye, i.e., metastasize, affecting other areas of the body like the bones and lungs as well as vital organs. The cancer cells can invade nearby tissue, travel through the lymphatic system or bloodstream or cause the formation of new blood vessels, which allows the cancer to continue growing. The cells look exactly like the cancer cells in the eye to a doctor looking through a microscope. The most common area for eye cancer to spread is the liver.

The earlier metastatic melanoma is caught, the more treatment options are available. Unfortunately, when the cancer cells metastasize, it can be difficult to control. In some cases, the cancer is fatal.

Contact California Retina Associates

If you have been diagnosed with ocular melanoma and would like to avoid losing your vision or experiencing other ocular melanoma complications, California Retina Associates can help. We have three offices located throughout San Diego and beyond to manage your care. Please call or email us today to set up an appointment with our team.