Ocular Melanoma is rare cancer that develops in the various parts of the eyes. It is marked by an uncontrollable division of pigment-producing cells (melanin) in the eyes. It leads to the appearance of lumps in the eyes. Its exact causes are not known. It is represented by symptoms such as flashes of light, dark grey spots on the iris, blurred vision, peripheral vision, and many more. It is often detected during a routine eye examination long before the symptoms appear. It can be diagnosed by regular eye examination, ultrasound of the eyes, fluorescein angiogram, and sometimes tumor biopsy.
What Does Ocular Melanoma Look Like?
Ocular melanoma is a type of eye cancer that develops in the pigment-producing cells of the eye. It accounts for 5% of all melanomas. It is more common in males than in females.(1)
Usually, ocular melanoma may not exhibit signs and symptoms. If it shows symptoms, it can lead to blurred vision or obstruction. It appears like flashes or dark spots that are seen in the visual field. It can also appear as a spot (or multiple spots) on the iris. It looks like a freckle on the iris called a choroidal nevus. In some cases, ocular melanoma tumors can be noticed during routine eye examination much before the symptoms develop.(2)
Its other symptoms include-
- The patient may feel flashes or specks of dust in his vision (floaters)
- He may have a sensation of a growing dark spot on the iris
- The shape or color of the pupil in the center of the eye is changed.
- One of his eyes show poor or blurred vision
- Peripheral vision is lost(3)
Who Is Most Likely To Get Ocular Melanoma?
People who have the following risk factors are likely to get ocular melanoma-
- Age- this disorder can occur at any age. Its risk elevates with increasing age. The majority of cases are detected at the age of 50 years.(3)
- Race- it is more likely to affect people belonging to the Caucasian race.(1)
- Skin Color- it is more common in people who have a fair complexion. It usually affects white people.(3)
- Eye Color- it is observed that individuals who have light eye color, i.e., blue, grey, or green eyes, are at higher risk of developing eye melanoma as compared to those who have brown eyes.(4)
- Abnormal Pigmentation Of The Eyelid Or Uvea- Those who have irregular pigmentation of the eyelid or uvea are at higher risk of contracting eye melanoma.(1)
- Oculodermal Melanocytosis- If a person has this disorder, it leads to elevated and abnormal pigmentation of the eye or the skin near the eye. He is more at risk of developing this disease.
- Unusual Moles- those who have irregular shaped or atypical colored moles, are more prone to develop skin cancer or ocular melanoma.(3)
- Use Of Sunbeds- according to some studies, exposure to UV rays through sunbeds can increase the risk of developing ocular melanoma.(3)
- Exposure To Sunlight– overexposure to sun may lead to skin cancers that elevate the risk of ocular melanoma too.(3)
- Dysplastic Nevus Syndrome- It is a condition characterized by an appearance of atypical moles, named dysplastic nevi. They have different features than usual moles, marked by irregular borders, of several different colors appearing in clusters. They tend to transform into malignancy more than ordinary moles.(4)
Ocular melanoma looks like freckles on the iris. It is likely to develop in the people who are old above the age of 50 years, white or fair-skinned, have blue or green or grey colored eyes, overexposed to sunlight or UV lights, and others discussed above.