Ocular Melanoma

bicher-oncology-staff-doctors-photo-session-2015-6Melanoma is a form of cancer that develops in the cells responsible for producing melanin and pigment. Pigment mainly produces skin color, but because the human eye also contains melanin, it is possible to develop melanoma in one or both eyes. Ocular melanoma is the most common form of eye cancer in adults.

Ocular melanoma is not detectable by the naked eye, and because there are usually few early signs and symptoms of the disease, it can be difficult to diagnose. Ocular melanoma is treatable, and depending on the size of the tumor(s), treatment may not affect vision, however with larger tumors, there is a possibility of some vision loss with treatment for some patients.

Signs and Symptoms of Eye Melanoma

Symptoms of melanoma in the eye can be rare, and do not always present in patients suffering from the disease. When symptoms occur they can include:

  • Poor or blurry vision in one eye
  • Loss of peripheral vision
  • Dark spot in the iris
  • Changes in the size and shape of the pupil
  • “Floating” particles in vision
  • “Flashing lights” sensation in the affected eye

It is important to be aware and to seek treatment as soon as possible for any noticeable changes in vision.

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What Causes Eye Cancer?

Unlike many other types of adult cancer, the causes of ocular melanoma are still unclear. Mutations in DNA that cause cells to grow out of control and form tumors can occur in healthy tissue at any time and develop into cancer.

Some of the potential risk factors that can increase the likelihood that a person could develop eye cancer include:

  • Eye color – Blue and green eyes can be more susceptible to ocular melanoma.
  • Ethnicity – Caucasians are generally at greater risk of developing eye melanoma.
  • Age – Eye cancer risk tends to increase with age.
  • Heredity and genetics – Certain underlying conditions can predispose people to developing ocular melanoma. Dysplastic nevus syndrome causes abnormal moles, and can increase the risk of melanoma on the skin and eyes. Conditions that cause abnormal pigmentation, such as ocular melanocytosis, can elevate the risk of developing melanoma in the eyes.
  • Ultraviolet (UV) radiation – Like the skin, the eyes are also susceptible to sun damage (as well as uv radiation from tanning beds), therefore it is possible to develop ocular melanoma from sun damage. Wearing protective eye wear is as important as wearing sunscreen while out in the sun.

Contact Bicher Cancer Institute today to learn more about melanoma and cancer treatment with hyperthermia (heat) in Los Angeles.

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“Fighting cancer with heat is no secret.
But it is an untouched weapon that holds remarkable potential.”

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James I. Bicher, MD
Founder & CEO,
Bicher Cancer Institute

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