Posted by: juliegriffey | July 8, 2011

Melanoma of the Eye

Have you ever seen that Seinfeld episode where Jerry is on a date with a dermatologist who tells him: “you have no idea what it is like to save someone’s life,”  to which Jerry is thinking – “what??? you pop zits – not exactly saving someone’s life.”  Later he realizes that the dermatologist frequently detects and removes melanomas, and Jerry is left eating his words.

Melanoma of the Eye

Like Sara (the dermatologist in the Seinfeld episode) optometrists and ophthalmologists are also saving lives by detecting melanoma. However, instead of the melanoma presenting itself on the patient’s skin, the melanoma shows up in the patient’s eye.

Treatment of melanoma in the eye is not as straightforward as a melanoma on the skin. Melanomas on the skin can be cut off and patients can expect a good prognosis as long as it was completely removed.  When a melanoma is found in the eye, radiation and/or chemotherapy may be part of the course of treatment, and in many cases the eye has to be removed.  (My father-in-law, Dr. Tom and brother-in-law, Dr. Paul have both removed eyes due to melanomas).

Unfortunately, melanoma in the eye has become a more common occurrence in the past few decades.  Like melanoma of the skin, it is caused by too much exposure to the sun and blue-eyed, fair skin people are most at risk.  Your best methods of prevention are avoiding the sun, and when in the sun, wearing sunscreen and sunglasses with 100% UV protection.  Regular visits to your eye doctor are important as well.  It might just even save your life.



  1. My step father was misdiagnosed with a cataract in an original examination. He waited until the “cataract” become bothersome to see a surgeon, who informed him that it was cancer. Thankfully, he did not lose his eye because the tumor was on the outer part of the eye. He had to have surgery and post-op drops. Needless to say, I went over there with 5 different types of sunglasses.

  2. A few years ago, a much loved brother-in-law of mine was diagnosed with melanoma of the eye. He was treated with radiation therapy, but then had to have that beautiful brown eye removed. Three years later his melanoma had metastacized into his liver, he died in only 3 months. Now I have heard his older brother, also brown eyed, has the same disease, but this time at the front of the eye, where as David, my brother-in-law, had his in the back of the eye. I urge everyone, wear sunglasses with complete UV protection and get your eyes checked regularly, it could save your life.

  3. […] was surprised that you could have a primary source of melanoma in your eye. I knew that melanoma on the skin that had spread into the eye could be detected in an eye exam. However, I didn’t know the cancer could start in the eye. My father-in-law explained that […]

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