Melanoma is a type of cancer that develops in the cells that produce melanin, a pigment that gives your skin and eyes their color. Most eye melanomas form in the part of the eye that you can’t see when looking in the mirror, making it very difficult to detect. Additionally, melanomas generally present no signs or symptoms, so you may not know that you have an eye melanoma until you visit your eye doctor for an annual checkup.
It’s not clear why some people develop eye melanomas, which means that anyone can be at risk. Here’s everything you need to know about melanoma and the warning signs to be on the lookout for.
Symptoms of Eye Melanoma
If you have an eye melanoma, you may not have any signs or symptoms. However, there are things to pay attention to, as they could indicate a problem in the melanin.
-Floaters, flashes or specks of dust
-Growing dark spot on the iris
-Change in the shape of your pupil
-Poor or blurry vision in one eye
-Loss of peripheral vision
If any of these symptoms do occur, contact your retina specialist right away for an appointment. If it’s not melanoma, it could be something else that requires treatment.
What Causes Eye Melanoma
Eye melanoma occurs when errors develop in the healthy eye cells. These errors tell the cells to grow, so they start moving to places where they normally would not survive. The mutated cells then cluster together and form a melanoma.
Melanomas can form in different parts of the eye, though they most commonly affect the middle layer of the eye. This part is called the uvea, and it consists of three parts – the iris, the choroid layer and the ciliary body. Eye melanomas can also form in the conjunctiva, in the eye socket or on the eyelid, though this is less common.
What are the Risk Factors for Melanoma
Even though it’s not clear what causes melanoma, there seems to be certain risk factors tied to this condition. These include:
-Exposure to UV light
-Having a light eye color like blue or green
-Certain genetic mutations
-Certain inherited skin disorders
Seek an Ophthalmologist for Treatment for Eye Melanoma
When eye melanoma is not treated, complications can occur. You may have increased eye pressure, vision loss or melanoma that spreads beyond the eyes. This is why regular checkups are important, as they can detect melanoma early on.
If you are diagnosed with melanoma, your treatment will depend on the size and location of the cancer. Some small melanomas require no treatment and instead are monitored for changes. If immediate treatment is needed, your options may include laser treatment, radiation therapy, photodynamic therapy, cold treatments or surgery.
You never want to ignore an eye melanoma. If you have been diagnosed with melanoma or are facing some of the symptoms mentioned in this article, contact the retina specialists in NYC from Empire Retina Consultants.