What are they?
They are tumours that occur inside the eye, specifically in the layer called the uvea which includes the iris, ciliary body and choroid. The iris is the area that gives the eyes their colour and it acts as a diaphragm that protects us from light and helps the visual process.
The ciliary body is the area immediately behind the iris. It has two very important functions. The first is to produce aqueous humour and the second is to control the function of the crystalline lens, that is to say, regulate our capacity to accommodate our eyesight when we read.
They are generally detected through changes in the colour or shape of the iris, although depending on each type, the variety of symptoms and signs may increase. It is not unusual that in some cases the findings come about simply by chance in a check-up. For this reason, it is always a good idea to undergo regular check-ups and especially if you discover any of the signs mentioned above.
Causes and risk factors
As in any tumour there are internal or inherent factors to the individual such as genetic factors, and external factors such as sunlight.
There are lesions with their origins in the tissue itself like the nevus, melanoma, leiomyoma, leimyosarcoma, rhabdomyosarcoma, neurofibroma, juvenile xanthogranuloma, tumours of the pigmented epithelium and xanthomas. We may also enconter lesions that come from other tissues where the primary tumour originated, like metastasis, lymphoma, medulloepithelioma of the ciliary body or inflammatory pseudomotor.
In any case, in order to make it easier to understand, we could say that there are benign lesions that are not life threatening for the individual nor do they cause any risk of significant harm to the eyeball, and malignant pathology with the capacity to significantly affect the eyeball or even the life of the patient. On some occasions, we do not know if the lesion is malignant or benign until its exeresis (removal), and analysis in the anatomical pathology department.
Prevention is based on two blocks of action. The first is protection against the sun, especially in countries or places with lots of sunlight. The second is early diagnosis by a specialist with the aim of detecting lesions in time, treating them and avoiding potential complications.
Treatments range from simple observation to a surgical approach depending on the type of lesion. In some cases, the approach may be multidiciplinary, especially in cases of metatasis where the tumour originates in another tissue.
Professionals who treat this pathology
Frequently asked questions
Could surgery affect my appearance?
It depends on the area removed and its size. In cases where a large part of the iris is affected, we use a prothesis that imitates the tissue almost perfectly. It is difficult to distinguish it from the healthy eye.
I've had spots on my iris since I was born and they remained unchanged until adulthood. Should I ask for a consultation?
The pigmentation of the iris is natural and in a large part of individuals it's a question of genetics. In these cases, danger is not usually observed, although it is always good to get the opinion of a specialist.