Posted by: juliegriffey | June 23, 2014

Melanoma of the eye does not always lead to eye removal

Eye exam can detect melanomaOne of the benefits of visiting my in-laws in Norfolk, VA is that I get to be around a huge knowledge base of optical information.  My brother-in-law is an ophthalmologist. My father-in-law is a retired ophthalmologist.  And – actually – my father-in-law’s father was an ophthalmologist as well; three generations of ophthalmologists in one family!  My husband, however, decided to shirk family tradition and become a emergency physician. (Rebel!) So, as you can imagine, there is quite a bit of medical talk around the breakfast, lunch and dinner table.

This morning my husband was sharing a story with his father about a patient that came into the emergency department with melanoma of the eye.  He remarked that he was surprised that they hadn’t removed the eye, but had instead implanted radioactive seeds in the eye in attempt to eradicate the tumor. Apparently this is common practice if the melanoma in the eye is the primary source of the cancer, and if the tumor is in certain locations within the eye.

I 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 the eye is full of melanin so it is not uncommon for a person’s cancer to start there. The course of treatment depends on the location and spread of the tumor, and removal of the eye is not always necessary.

Not having to get your eye removed is great news for those afflicted with melanoma in the eye. But for those of us who don’t have it – what a great reason to invest in some sunglasses for the kids and maybe a new pair for ourselves.

More information about intraocular melanoma

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