Melanoma of the eye: symptoms, causes and treatment
Ocular melanoma or eye melanoma is a rare type of cancer that affects various parts of the eye, particularly the choroid, ciliary body and iris. Choroidal melanoma is the most common form of malignant eye tumor.
Many people confuse melanoma with cutaneous malignant disease, however, not everyone knows that melanoma develops from melanocytes, cells that contain the dark pigment (melanin) that defines our skin coloring. Melanocytes are not only in the skin they can be found in hair, eyes and mucous membranes of some organs.
The human eye consists of concentric pigmented layers. Its middle layer is called choroid of the eyeball, associated with providing nutrition for the body and absorption of light. Cells that are in this part of the eye provide eye color (melanocyte). When these cells turn malignant – melanoma develops in the eye.
Depending on the layer affected by malignant cells, eye cancer can be divided into choroidal melanoma eye melanoma ciliary body melanoma and iris. The tumor is melanoma of the iris mostly benign that do not pose any threat to vision, until it becomes malignant. In addition, early detection of the tumor can lead to rapid recovery.
What causes ocular melanoma?
Like many other cancers, experts are not quite sure what causes melanoma of the eye, but it is suspected that this is due to the ultraviolet rays of the sun. This theory is still not proven.
Even if the cause of ocular melanoma is still not precisely defined, researchers have identified risk factors for the disease.
Risk factors for ocular melanoma include:
- Statistics have shown that people with light skin and blue eyes have a higher risk of developing the disease;
- Mutations in certain genes like BRAF and BAP1;
- Oculodermal melanosis, a rare condition that causes increased and abnormal pigmentation of the eyes and skin around the eyes.
The researchers found that the majority of choroidal tumors of the eye melanoma benign nature. Metastases with melanoma of the eye can spread to the other layers of the eye.
The symptoms of ocular melanoma
Melanoma of the eye in the early stages asymptomatic. Subsequently help us to develop the symptoms of eye melanoma:
- The dark spot on the iris of the eye, gradually increasing diameter;
- Blurred vision in one eye: blurred, fuzzy, narrowing the field of view, the emergence of the field of view of foreign objects;
- Changing the shape of the pupil;
- Soreness of eyes;
- Protrusion of the eyes;
- Loss of peripheral vision.
Diagnosis of eye melanoma
In cases of suspected ocular melanoma, ophthalmologists recommend that patients undergo diagnostic examination, which includes:
- A thorough eye examination;
- The study of internal and external structures of the eyeball;
- Biomicroscopy examination of the structures of the eyeball using a slit lamp microscope;
- Ultrasound scanning of the eye structure of the eyeball and orbit;
- Angiography study of vessels in the eye, using contrast medium;
- Biopsy – a small tissue sample of the tumor and histopathological examination.
Other tests like an MRI or CT scan may be done if there is suspicion that the cancer has spread beyond the eye. The liver is a common site of metastasis for cancer of the eye.
Treatment of melanoma of the eye will depend on the size of your tumor and its location. Of great importance for your overall health. If the melanoma is growing significantly, causing some complications, in this case, the doctor will prescribe one of the treatments. If the melanoma is small in size some time your doctor may not take any measures, but simply to observe changes and growth.
Surgical intervention may include the following procedures:
- During surgery to remove small tumors will be affected a small part of healthy tissue. Surgical excision of part of healthy tissue that surrounds the tumor, can also be a method of treatment of small melanomas.
- Surgical intervention, when it will be removed completely the eye, called enucleation. This method is used in the later stages, when the melanoma has reached large dimensions.
For the treatment of melanoma of the retina is widely used radiation therapy and cryosurgery. Radiation therapy is based on the powerful energy beams, which should kill cancer cells. Radiation therapy is usually used for small and medium tumors.