Ocular Melanoma (OM) is a rare, yet all to common cancer that effects the eyes. Melanoma, as a deadly cancer, can be diagnosed in the eyes. I’ve had melanoma on my face and with no eye issues. With a need for new eye glasses, I’ve just been to an optometrist for basic evaluation. Let me also mention that an optometrist does the typical eye exams, lense changes, adjustment of frames, and non-urgent eye health process. An ophthalmologist is a specialist who works with the study and treatment of disorders and diseases of the eye. Ocular oncologists treat patients with ocular melanoma and other eye cancers, and may also be an ophthalmologist. I chose to go with an optometrist as I have no signs of OM.
In The Blink of an Eye
My oncologists recommend having my eyes checked for melanoma and it was long overdue! The visit was all very routine though I did request a doctor (in advance) that has diagnosed eye cancer. No tumors or questionable areas were found and a routine eye exam ensued. With a mother with macular degeneration, I witness the importance of eye health and the tragedy of eye damage on a regular basis.
Whether you are a melanoma patient or not, schedule your next eye exam with a request to be “looked over” for ocular melanoma and other eye disease. Eye health should routinely include close examination of all areas of your eyes; the exam is painless and I felt a tiny bit of relief, knowing my eyes are melanoma free. Skin cancer is a reckless fugitive that I deal with daily, and why not feel confident that your vision is okay?
Easy on the Eyes
Ocular melanoma is NOT a cutaneous skin melanoma. I just thought it important to discuss OM where it is often considered a skin cancer (cutaneous) and from what I read, it is not! Uveal melanoma and useful information about eye cancers, as described by the National Cancer Institute, is more specific to the tumors that can go undetected in the eye and are often fatal.
OM is rare and early detection matters. Each year approximately 2,500 people are diagnosed in the United States. According to studies, this is not a melanoma that is sun related, though over 50, fair skin, and blue or green eyes are commonalities in most patients. Tumors start in the pigment cells (melanocytes) of the uvea that gives color to the eyes. This information still has me wondering if there is a connection to the sun with this type of eye cancer?
The Eyes Have It
We don’t need to have eyes in the back of our heads to know eye health is essential.
- Make an appointment for an eye exam
- Be aware of changes in your eyes
- Protective glasses are critical anywhere that effect your eye health
- Avoid unnecessary brightness and sun situations
- Wear your sun glasses (ultraviolet (UV) protection is just sensible as it filters the sun’s rays; polarized lenses block intense reflected light and reduce glare)
- Let tired eyes rest
Ocular melanoma is not common and is lethal. While it is not known what causes this type of eye cancer, consider eye health a part of your whole health agenda. With so many unknowns in uveal melanoma, all the more reason to practice good eye health. New glasses for me next week!
I hope that those of you working through eye cancers will consider adding comments here.
We can-cer vive!