Melanoma refers to a kind of cancer that starts in the melanocytes- the cells that make melanin, a pigment that imparts color to your skin, hair, and eyes. when eyes are affected by this condition, it is known as ocular melanoma. Ocular melanoma usually does not cause any initial signs and symptoms. It makes it difficult to diagnose it at the earliest. Lack of treatment can lead to complications in such instances.(1)(2)
What Happens To Untreated Ocular Melanoma?
Ocular melanoma may not lead to any signs and symptoms. However, if left untreated, it may lead to many complications. These may include-
Increase In The Pressure Inside The Eye- This is also termed as glaucoma. Glaucoma may cause severe pain in the eye, redness. It can also lead to a blurred vision.
Loss Of Vision- If an ocular melanoma grows large enough, it can lead to a serious vision loss, triggering a host of other severe complications. These may include retinal detachment, which ultimately ends in the loss of vision, as well. If an ocular melanoma is small, it can lead to partial vision loss, especially if it develops in a vital part of the eye. This can cause difficulty in seeing on the side of the center of your vision. If an ocular melanoma progresses or advances greatly, it may lead to a complete loss of vision
Spread-Related Complications Of Ocular Melanoma- An ocular melanoma can metastasize or spread to areas other than the eyes. This can include lungs, liver, and bones. A metastasized ocular melanoma can be an extremely serious condition to treat.(1)
When To Go To A Doctor For Ocular Melanoma?
If you experience any of the signs and symptoms of ocular melanoma, you must visit an ophthalmologist immediately. These signs and symptoms especially include abrupt or unexpected changes in your vision.(1)
Ocular melanoma may not lead to any signs and symptoms at all. However, if there are any signs and symptoms, they may be as are described below. You need to keep a watch on them too and consult your doctor immediately if any of these are present.
Signs and symptoms of ocular melanoma:
- Floaters or specs of dust in vision
- A feeling of flashes in the vision
- Iris shows a dark spot that is growing, however slowly
- Changes in pupil shape. Pupils are at the center of your eyes
- Blurry vision in one eye
- Abrupt poor vision
- Compromised peripheral vision(1)(2)
Causes Of Ocular Melanoma
The exact cause of ocular melanoma is not yet known. It is believed that ocular melanoma results when there is some mistake in the way the DNA of the eye develops. Due to this mistake, the cells multiply rapidly and beyond control. Thus, the faulty cells are supposed to die to keep on growing and then accumulate, causing the tumor.
Ocular melanoma is usually seen to be developing in the middle layer of your eyes. this is called the uvea. The uvea consists of three parts, viz. the iris, the choroid layer, and the ciliary body. Any of these three parts can be affected by ocular melanoma.
Ocular melanoma can also be seen affecting the outermost layer of the front of the eye. This layer is called the conjunctiva. However, this type of melanoma is extremely rare.(1)
Ocular melanoma is a unique type of cancer that occurs in the eye. This cancer starts in the melanocytes- the cells responsible for imparting color to your skin, hair, and eyes. when the eyes are affected due to this, it is known as ocular melanoma. Ocular melanoma cannot go away on its own. It may or may not need treatment, depending upon various factors. However, if left untreated while in need of treatment, it can lead to serious problems, most importantly- loss of vision.
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