Ocular Melanoma

Health A to Z

Overview

Causes

Symptoms

Diagnosis

Treatment

Introduction

Ocular melanoma is a rare and serious form of cancer that affects the eye. Despite its rarity, it is crucial for healthcare professionals and patients to understand its complexity due to its aggressive nature and potential for significant impact on vision and overall health. This article provides an in-depth look at ocular melanoma, covering its causes, symptoms, diagnosis, treatment options, and the importance of ongoing research.

Disease Overview

Ocular melanoma, also known as uveal or choroidal melanoma, occurs in about 5 per million adults annually, making it the most common primary intraocular cancer in adults but still a relatively rare condition. It originates in the melanocytes of the uveal tract—the middle layer of the eye that includes the iris, ciliary body, and choroid. Most ocular melanomas are found in the choroid, with less common occurrences in the iris and ciliary body. This cancer is known for its ability to metastasize, especially to the liver, necessitating prompt and effective treatment strategies.

Normal Anatomy of the Eye

A basic understanding of eye anatomy helps in comprehending how ocular melanoma develops:

  • Conjunctiva: The thin, transparent tissue covering the front of the eye.
  • Sclera: The tough, white outer layer of the eyeball.
  • Cornea: The clear, curved front of the eye that helps focus incoming light.
  • Iris: The colored part of the eye, which regulates the size of the pupil and thus light entry.
  • Ciliary Body: This structure adjusts the lens for focusing and regulates the flow of aqueous humor.
  • Choroid: A vascular layer providing oxygen and nutrients to the eye, commonly affected by melanoma.

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