Ocular melanoma


Ocular melanoma

What is it?

The eyeball, despite its small size, can be the place of settlement of a tumor.

The most frequent ocular tumors are benign and generally irrelevant. However, some may lead to severe complications in vision, and even submit a malignant cell phenotype, with capacity to disseminate through the body uncontrollably, leading to metastatic disease with the potential risk of death.

Melanoma is the most common primary malignant eye tumor in adults, and its prevalence is about one case for every thirty thousand people.

Ocular tumors may also form part of general syndromes, such as tuberous sclerosis or neurofibromatosis, or even be the first manifestation of a more serious diseases, such as Von Hippel Lindau phakomatoses, in which vascular straining tumors grow inside the eye, the kidneys and the central nervous system.


Many tumors are silent, lacking clinical manifestations, and can only be detected in a routine eye exam.

A change in the color of the iris, a progressive deterioration of vision, darkening of an area of ​​the visual field or whitish pupil in a baby are warning signs and should make suspect the presence of a tumor within the eye.

The diagnosis and treatment of ocular tumors requires experience and collaboration of a well-coordinated multidisciplinary team involving specialists in: radiotherapists, biophysical, oncologists, pathologists and geneticists.


Depending on the size and location of the tumor, there are different therapeutic alternatives based mainly on highly specialized laser techniques, radiotherapy and surgery achieved in a high percentage of cases, eliminating tumor and preserving the eyeball.

Tumors located in the front of the eye (iris, ciliary body and choroid above) are more easily accessible and can be surgically removed. The use of local radiation therapy (brachytherapy) with different radioactive isotopes, as do I- 125, also allows eradicate tumors at a more posterior location.


These techniques have successfully increased the quality of life of patients, because it is not only possible to retain the eyeball of the affected person, but an acceptable level of vision is achieved in most cases.

By its association with other systemic diseases it is necessary to follow ophthalmologic examinations and control the patient's general condition during the entire lifetime.



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