What is Intraocular Melanoma?Intraocular melanoma is a rare form of cancer that occurs in the eye. It is the most common type of eye cancer in adults and originates from melanocytes, the cells that produce melanin, the pigment that gives colour to the skin, hair, and eyes. This type of melanoma can develop in various parts of the eye but most commonly arises in the uvea, which includes the iris, ciliary body, and choroid.
SymptomsSymptoms of intraocular melanoma may not always be apparent in the early stages and can include:
- Visual changes such as blurred vision or sudden loss of vision.
- The appearance of dark spots on the iris or changes in the shape of the pupil.
- A visible change in the position of the eyeball within its socket.
- Flashes of light or floating specks (floaters) in one’s vision.
- Pain in or around the eye, although this is rare.
Disease Aetiology (Causes)The exact cause of intraocular melanoma is unknown. Factors that may increase the risk include:
- Age, with most cases occurring in people over 50.
- Having a fair skin complexion or light-coloured eyes.
- Overexposure to sunlight or UV radiation.
- Certain inherited skin conditions like dysplastic nevus syndrome.
DiagnosisDiagnosing intraocular melanoma involves:
- Eye Examination: An ophthalmologist will conduct a comprehensive eye exam, including an examination of the back of the eye using ophthalmoscopy.
- Ultrasound of the Eye: To examine the inside of the eye and measure the tumour.
- Fluorescein Angiography: To check for blood vessel patterns typical of a melanoma.
- Biopsy: Rarely performed due to the risk of spreading cancer cells but may be necessary in some cases.
TreatmentTreatment options for intraocular melanoma include:
- Surgery: To remove the tumour, which can range from local resection to enucleation (removal of the entire eye) in advanced cases.
- Radiation Therapy: The most common treatment, which can be delivered through plaque brachytherapy or external beam radiation.
- Laser Therapy: Such as thermotherapy, to treat smaller tumours.
- Targeted Therapy and Immunotherapy: For advanced cases where the cancer has spread beyond the eye.