Melanoma is a type of cancer that develops in the cells that produce melanin — the pigment that gives your skin its color. Your eyes also have melanin-producing cells and can develop melanoma. Eye melanoma is also called ocular melanoma.
Most eye melanomas form in the part of the eye you can't see when looking in a mirror. This makes eye melanoma difficult to detect. In addition, eye melanoma typically doesn't cause early signs or symptoms.
Eye melanoma may not cause signs and symptoms. When they do occur, signs and symptoms of eye melanoma can include:
· A growing dark spot on the iris
· A sensation of flashing lights
· A change in the shape of the dark circle (pupil) at the center of your eye
· Poor or blurry vision in one eye
· Loss of peripheral vision
· Sensation of flashes and specks of dust in your vision (floaters)
It's not clear what causes eye melanoma, also called ocular melanoma.
Doctors know that eye melanoma occurs when errors develop in the DNA of healthy eye cells. The DNA errors tell the cells to grow and multiply out of control, so the mutated cells go on living when they would normally die. The mutated cells accumulate in the eye and form an eye melanoma.
· Operations used to treat eye melanoma include procedures to remove part of the eye or a procedure to remove the entire eye. Options may include:
· Surgery to remove the melanoma and a small area of healthy tissue. Surgery to remove the melanoma and a band of healthy tissue that surrounds it may be an option for treating small melanomas.
· What procedure you'll undergo depends on the size and location of your eye melanoma. For instance, surgery to remove a small melanoma affecting the iris is called iridectomy. Surgery to remove a melanoma in the choroid is called choroidectomy.
· Surgery to remove the entire eye (enucleation). Enucleation is often used for large eye tumors. It may also be used if the tumor is causing eye pain.
· After the eye with melanoma is removed, an implant is inserted into the same position, and the muscles controlling movement of the eye are attached to the implant, which allows the implant to move.
· After you've had some time to heal, an artificial eye (prosthesis) is made. The front surface of your new eye will be custom painted to match your existing eye.