Learn About Melanoma of the Eye

What is the definition of Melanoma of the Eye?

Melanoma of the eye is cancer that occurs in various parts of the eye.

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What are the alternative names for Melanoma of the Eye?

Malignant melanoma - choroid; Malignant melanoma - eye; Eye tumor; Ocular melanoma

What are the causes of Melanoma of the Eye?

Melanoma is a very aggressive type of cancer that can spread rapidly. It usually is a type of skin cancer.

Melanoma of the eye can affect several parts of the eye, including the:

  • Choroid
  • Ciliary body
  • Conjunctiva
  • Eyelid
  • Iris
  • Orbit

The choroid layer is the most likely site of melanoma in the eye. This is the layer of blood vessels and connective tissue between the white of the eye and retina (back of the eye).

The cancer may only be in the eye. Or, it may spread (metastasize) to another location in the body, most commonly the liver. Melanoma can also begin on the skin or other organs in the body and spread to the eye.

Melanoma is the most common type of eye tumor in adults. Even so, melanoma that starts in the eye is rare.

Too much exposure to sunlight is an important risk factor for melanoma. People who have fair-skin and blue eyes are most affected.

What are the symptoms of Melanoma of the Eye?

Symptoms of melanoma of the eye may include any of the following:

  • Bulging eyes
  • Change in iris color
  • Poor vision in one eye
  • Red, painful eye
  • Small defect on the iris or conjunctiva

In some cases, there may be no symptoms.

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What are the current treatments for Melanoma of the Eye?

Small melanomas may be treated with:

  • Surgery
  • Laser
  • Radiation therapy (such as Gamma Knife, CyberKnife, brachytherapy)

Surgery to remove the eye (enucleation) may be needed.

Other treatments that may be used include:

  • Chemotherapy, if the cancer has spread beyond the eye
  • Immunotherapy, which uses medicines to help your immune system fight the melanoma
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What are the support groups for Melanoma of the Eye?

You can ease the stress of illness by joining a cancer support group. Sharing with others who have common experiences and problems can help you not feel alone.

What is the outlook (prognosis) for Melanoma of the Eye?

The outcome for melanoma of the eye depends on the size of the cancer when it is diagnosed. Most people survive at least 5 years from the time of diagnosis if the cancer has not spread outside the eye.

If the cancer has spread outside the eye, the chance of long-term survival is much lower.

What are the possible complications of Melanoma of the Eye?

Problems that may develop due to melanoma of the eye include:

  • Distortion or loss of vision
  • Retinal detachment
  • Spread of the tumor to other areas of the body
When should I contact a medical professional for Melanoma of the Eye?

Contact your health care provider for an appointment if you have symptoms of melanoma of the eye.

How do I prevent Melanoma of the Eye?

The most important way to prevent melanoma of the eye is to protect the eyes from sunlight, especially between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., when the sun's rays are most intense. Wear sunglasses that have ultraviolet protection.

A yearly eye exam is recommended.

What are the latest Melanoma of the Eye Clinical Trials?
Safety and Efficacy of SRS and Immune Checkpoint Inhibitors (ICI) Concurrent With NovoTTF-100M in Melanoma Brain Metastases

Summary: This phase I trial finds out the side effects and possible benefits of stereotactic radiosurgery and immune checkpoint inhibitors with NovoTTF-100M for the treating of melanoma that has spread to the brain (brain metastases). Stereotactic radiosurgery is a type of external radiation therapy that uses special equipment to position the patient and precisely give a single large dose of radiation to a...

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A Phase 2 Open-label, Ascending Single and Repeat Dose Escalation Trial of Belzupacap Sarotalocan (AU-011) Via Suprachoroidal Administration in Subjects With Primary Indeterminate Lesions and Small Choroidal Melanoma

Summary: The primary objective is to assess safety and efficacy of AU-011 via suprachoroidal injection to treat primary indeterminate lesions and small choroidal melanoma.

What are the Latest Advances for Melanoma of the Eye?
Ocular toxicity of targeted therapies with MEK inhibitors and BRAF inhibitors in the treatment of metastatic cutaneous melanoma.
A Phase 1 study of ADI-PEG20 (pegargiminase) combined with cisplatin and pemetrexed in ASS1-negative metastatic uveal melanoma.
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Insidious ocular surface lesion in an 81-year-old woman.
Who are the sources who wrote this article ?

Published Date: July 19, 2021
Published By: Todd Gersten, MD, Hematology/Oncology, Florida Cancer Specialists & Research Institute, Wellington, FL. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team. Editorial update 05/18/2022.

What are the references for this article ?

Augsburger JJ, Corrêa ZM, Berry JL. Malignant intraocular neoplasms. In: Yanoff M, Duker JS, eds. Ophthalmology. 5th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2019:chap 8.1.

National Cancer Institute website. Intraocular (uveal) melanoma treatment (PDQ) - health professional version. www.cancer.gov/types/eye/hp/intraocular-melanoma-treatment-pdq. Updated February 25, 2022. Accessed May 18, 2022.

Seddon JM, McCannel TA. Epidemiology of posterior uveal melanoma. In: Schachat AP, Sadda SVR, Hinton DR, Wilkinson CP, Wiedemann P, eds. Ryan's Retina. 6th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2018:chap 143.

Shields CL, Shields JA. Overview of management of posterior uveal melanoma. In: Schachat AP, Sadda SVR, Hinton DR, Wilkinson CP, Wiedemann P, eds. Ryan's Retina. 6th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2018:chap 147.