You must have heard of melanoma. However, you must have heard about it in the context of skin cancer. Melanoma is a serious type of skin cancer that develops in the pigment that gives colour to the skin, eyes and hair. But do you know melanoma can also form in the eye? Just like skin cancer, eye melanoma also develops in the pigment-producing cells that lend eyes their colour. If the melanoma starts in the eye, it is called primary eye cancer. If melanoma begins elsewhere in the body and spreads to the eye, it is called secondary eye cancer.
Symptoms of eye melanoma
Eye melanomas often form in that part of the eye that is easily visible. This makes eye melanoma difficult to detect. Moreover, there are early warning signs or symptoms. However, when symptoms do occur, they include
- Growing dark spot on the iris
- Change in the shape of the pupil
- Blurry vision in one eye
- Loss of peripheral vision
Causes of eye melanoma
The exact cause of eye melanoma is still not known. It occurs when errors develop in the DNA of healthy eye cells. What causes cells to grow and multiply out of control is not known.
Here are some risk factors for melanoma
Some people are at higher risk of developing eye melanoma than others and the risk factors include:
- Light eye colour. People with light coloured eyes are at higher risk of developing eye melanoma.
- Age: With age the risk of eye melanoma increases.
- Certain skin disorders: People who suffer from dysplastic nevus syndrome are at risk of developing melanoma on the skin and eye. People with abnormal skin pigmentation around the eyelids are also at risk.
- UV exposure: It is not conclusive but ultraviolet exposure to UV light, may increase the risk of eye melanoma.
- Genetic factors. Certain genes passed from parents to children may increase the risk of eye melanoma.
Complications related to eye melanoma include
- Glaucoma: A growing eye melanoma may cause glaucoma by increasing the ocular pressure within the eye.
- Vision loss. Growing eye melanomas can lead to vision loss. In some cases, they may cause retinal detachment, which if not treated in time can lead to irreversible vision loss. While small eye melanomas can cause partial vision loss, advanced eye melanomas can cause complete vision loss.
- Affect other organs: Eye melanoma can spread beyond the eye and can even spread to the liver, lungs and bones.
How to diagnose melanoma of the eyes?
Early detection of melanoma of the eye can help increase the chances of better treatment. The best way to detect melanoma early is to get the eye checked annually. A comprehensive eye check up involves the examination of the outer part of the eye as well as the inside of the eye.
Looking for an eye doctor in Kolkata?
Schedule an appointment with an eye doctor if there’s any symptom or sudden changes in vision. From routine eye tests to critical surgical interventions, Disha Eye Hospitals offer holistic care and treatment for your eyes. We offer a wide range of surgeries – LASIK, refractive surgeries and cataract surgery. To book an online consultation with our eye doctor in Kolkata or visit the nearest branch.