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What Leads To Ocular Melanoma & Can It Be Cured?

Ocular melanoma is the most prevalent leading cancer of the eye in adults. It is detected in about 2,000 adults every year in North America and the United States and happens most frequently in whites and fair skin people with an average age of 53 years. Nevertheless, it can ensue in all ethnicities and at any age.

Although, it is not clear why ocular melanomas occur. We do realize that individuals born with certain lumps or cysts in or on the eye, as well as those with lighter pigmented iris, are at an increased risk for developing eye cancer.

What Leads To Ocular Melanoma?

What Leads To Ocular Melanoma?

In several individuals, this melanoma develops in a part of the eye well-known as the uveal tract. The uveal tract is the pigmented sheet of tissue that is located below the white of the sclera and is comprised of typically colored tissues and blood plasma. The uvea, which is in the front of the eye composes the pigmented portion of the iris and a loop of the ciliary body that distributes a translucent liquid also known as aqueous humor into the eye and aids to regulate the structure of the lens.1

The precise reason for this condition is undetermined, but numerous risk elements have been discovered. As with skin cancer, people with fair skin, blond or red hair and light pigmented iris are at a higher risk of developing ocular melanoma. Certain types of skin cancer are often related to exposure to ultra-violet rays or exposure to sunlight however, ocular melanoma is not much associated with this risk.

Changes in a few genetic materials have been observed to arise in some affected persons than in individuals without an ocular melanoma. Scientists have demonstrated that malformations on genes are prevalent in these polyps and growths. Cancer patients with an altered BAP1 gene(a deubiquitinating enzyme that causes multiple tumor types) are likely to have bigger cancer widths and greater levels of metastasis than individuals with no variation. Ciliary body cancers are additionally more extremely linked with BAP1 alterations.2,3

Can Ocular Melanoma Be Cured?

The main factors in deciding on treatment for eye melanoma include the location and size of cancer, your overall health, preferences and as well as the likelihood of saving vision in the eye. There is not much benefit in protecting an eye if a minor melanoma in a vital location has previously damaged the sight in the eye.

A tiny eye cancer might not need quick therapy. If the cancer is insignificant and isn’t spreading, you and your physician may prefer to wait and observe for indications of progression. However, when the condition starts creating challenges, you should undergo treatment and therapies.4,5

To diagnose your condition your doctor may recommend for

Eye Exam- Ocular melanoma can be detected with a dilated eye exam by an optometrist. In addition, your doctor can even refer to binocular indirect ophthalmoscopy which provides a detailed examination that is far beyond the standard funduscopy of an eye exam.

Eye Ultrasound- ultrasound reveals choroidal excavation (arrow) at the base of this melanoma. The Eye Cubed investigative ultrasound approach is one of the leading mechanisms for ultrasound assessment of the eye and is generally applied in ocular oncology.

  • Imaging of the blood vessels
  • Optical coherence tomography

Although chemotherapy has not proven to be very helpful in treating eye melanomas that have spread, Immunotherapy and targeted therapy are showing promise and might help keep cancer in check for a time in some people.6


  1. Ocular Melanoma Causes – American Academy of Ophthalmology https://www.aao.org/eye-health/diseases/ocular-melanoma-cause
  2. Ocular Melanoma – NORD (National Organization for Rare Diseases) https://rarediseases.org/rare-diseases/ocular-melanoma/
  3. Eye Cancer: Ocular Melanoma Symptoms, Treatment and Risks https://www.webmd.com/melanoma-skin-cancer/ocular-melanoma#1
  4. Treating Eye Melanoma by Location and Size https://www.cancer.org/cancer/eye-cancer/treating/uveal-melanoma.html
  5. Eye melanoma – Diagnosis and treatment – Mayo Clinic https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/eye-melanoma/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20372376
  6. Intraocular (Uveal) Melanoma Treatment (PDQ®)–Patient Version https://www.cancer.gov/types/eye/patient/intraocular-melanoma-treatment-pdq

Also Read:

Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:March 8, 2022

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