The Cancer of the Uvea
Signs, Symptoms, and Detection
- Blurred or altered vision
- "Floaters" or flashes of light in your visual field
- A dark spot on the iris
- A change in the size or shape of the iris
- A change in the position of the eye in its socket
There are several tests capable of diagnosing intraocular melanoma, from basic physical eye exams with pupil dilation to various imaging techniques, including ultrasounds and indocyanine green angiography. A biopsy is rarely needed to diagnose intraocular melanoma.
Removal of either the tumor alone or the entire eye, depending on the size of the tumor and how vision has been affected.
Closely monitoring the patient's condition without providing any treatment. Usually used when no signs/symptoms are present, the tumor is not growing, or when the tumor is in the patient's only usable eye.
The use of high-energy X-rays or other types of radiation to kill cancer cells or keep them from growing. This can be accomplished either externally or internally. Shown is the internal method, called Plaque Radiation.
The use of laser light to destroy blood vessels leading to the tumor to cut off the flow of nutrients to the cancer cells. This is used to treat small tumors.
The use of heat from the laser to kill cancer cells and shrink the tumor.
- Large tumor size
- Ciliary body involvement
- Orange pigment over the tumor
- Age at time of diagnosis
About 50% of people develop a metastatic disease from intraocular melanoma writhin 15 years, and once it reaches the liver, the most likely site of metastasis, it is nearly incurable. However, if caught early, the above treatments can drastically extend life expectancy and improve quality of life for patients.
- Exposure to natural or artificial sunlight (UV rays) over long periods of time
- Having light colored eyes (blue or green)
- Older age
- Caucasian descent
- Family history of skin problems or diseases
- Abnormal pigmentation of the uvea
- Mutations in the GNAQ, GNA11, BAP1
As with all forms of melanoma, one of the most important ways to reduce your risk of developing intraocular melanoma is to reduce UV exposure. Also, eating right, exercising regularly, and relieving stress can help prevent the development of the disease. It is also recommended to get regular ophthalmology exams.