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How Dangerous Is Ocular Melanoma & Is It Contagious?

Ocular melanoma is an eye cancer that develops in the melanin-producing cells of the eye. These cells are responsible for the color of the eye. It is not common cancer and accounts for only 3-5 % of skin melanoma. It is usually primary cancer that develops from the original site rather than coming from other parts of the body. It can metastasize to other parts of the body, like the liver, lungs, or brain. Its prognosis depends on the size, location, and metastasis.

How Dangerous Is Ocular Melanoma?

How Dangerous Is Ocular Melanoma?

Ocular melanoma is the most common eye cancer which is diagnosed in adults. It is a relatively rare cancer than a skin cancer. It develops in the cells that produce melanin in the eye, the very cells responsible for giving eye color. It has been observed in the clinical studies that most of its cases develop in the pigmented cells found in the choroid or within the iris. It less commonly occurs in other parts of the eye other than the front part of the uvea. It has been known to develop on the outer and back portion of the uvea, and the conjunctiva.(1)

Ocular melanoma cause complications such as

Increase In Pressure Inside The Eye (Glaucoma)- A growing tumor in ocular melanoma may result in glaucoma, which may lead to eye pain, redness, and blurry vision.

Loss Of Vision – Large-sized ocular melanomas lead to vision loss in the affected eye and other complications, such as retinal detachment, thereby causing vision loss. Small eye melanomas may cause some vision loss if they develop in critical parts of the eye. Very advanced cases of these melanomas can result in a complete loss of vision.

Metastasis-It can spread outside of the eye to distant parts of the body, like liver, lungs, and bones complicating the case.(3)

Ocular melanoma is considered one of the most dangerous types of cancers in adults. The reason behind this is its ability to spread to the liver and other parts of the body and become life-threatening conditions.(1)

The tumor cells of Ocular Melanoma travel through the bloodstream and the lymphatic system. So, there is much risk that the liver may get affected. Clinical Statistics show that about 50% of cases diagnosed with ocular melanoma cases undergo metastasis. In patients where early diagnosis is made, the prognosis is relatively better. However, in cases where ocular melanoma has spread to distant organs such as liver, brain, and lungs, then the survival rate becomes poor, and treatment options ret reduced with poor prognosis. The commonly used treatment options used may include surgery, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy.(1) Fortunately, if the cancer is detected before it metastasizes, more than 90% of patients improve well with radiation therapy, although some end up with an impaired vision. If the melanoma has spread to other parts, the prognosis is poor.(2)

Is Ocular Melanoma Contagious?

Ocular melanoma is not a contagious disease as it does not spread from one person to another through any form of contact. On the other hand, it is observed that it can be passed from parents to their children through muted genes. However, its exact causes are not known, but its risk factors are identified. These risk factors involve-

  • Old age
  • Blue or green colored eyes
  • Fair skin color
  • Inherited or genetic diseases such as dysplastic nevus syndrome
  • Exposure to UV light
  • Genetic mutations(3)


Ocular melanoma can be a dangerous condition when it undergoes metastasis to other parts of the body. In most of cases, tumors cells of the eye reach the liver through blood or lymphatic, making the condition more dangerous. It is not a contagious disease as it cannot be transmitted by any means of contact except genetic inheritance.


Also Read:

Sheetal DeCaria, M.D.
Sheetal DeCaria, M.D.
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Sheetal DeCaria, M.D. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:March 9, 2022

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