About Uveal Melanoma

What is Uveal Melanoma?

Uveal melanoma is a form of ocular melanoma and is found in the parts of the eye known as the uveal (or uveal tract)

The Eye

What is the Uvea?

The uvea (or uveal tract) is the middle layer of the eye and contains 3 parts:

  • The Iris – the coloured part of the eye.
  • The Ciliary Body – the ring of muscle tissue that changes the size of the pupil and the shape of the lens;
  • The Choroid –  the tissue layer filled with blood vessels;
Anatomy of Uvea

Signs & Symptoms

A person with uveal melanoma may have no symptoms and the tumour can be discovered during a routine eye exam, or it may produce some symptoms. Some of these symptoms may include;

  • Vision change (e.g. blurred vision, flashing lights, unexpected seeing of shadows, seeing floating spots, loss of peripheral vision
  • Eye pain
  • Eye redness

These symptoms are similar to many other eye conditions, such as cataracts and glaucoma and are not specific to uveal melanoma. Examination of the eye by a specialist should be done to diagnose or rule out the presence of melanoma.

If the melanoma is located in the iris, a person may notice a physical change, for example a change in iris colour, a growth or changes in the size and shape of the pupil.



Risk Factors

Unlike cutaneous (skin) melanoma, which is closely linked to UV exposure from the sun and other sources, the cause of uveal melanoma is unclear.

However, there are some known factors that have been linked to increased risk for uveal melanoma, including;

  • Light eye colour, such as blue or green eyes
  • Fair skin colour
  • Being older in age. The median age at diagnosis is 55 years old

Although research studies have found an association with these factors, uveal melanoma can occur in any person regardless of age, race and eye colour.

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