Long ultraviolet (UV) exposure, both from natural sources like the sunlight or artificial forms, such as from tanning beds, can harm the eyes and the vision in various ways. Some of the conditions include photokeratitis or the swelling of the cornea, cataract, macular degeneration and, rarely, ocular melanoma.
In this post, your local optometrist at Northern Virginia Doctors of Optometry discusses what you need to know about ocular melanoma.
What Is Ocular Melanoma?
Ocular melanoma is a type of eye cancer that grows in the cells that create pigment, which gives color to your skin, hair and eyes. Though it can develop on your skin, the disease can also affect the inside of the eye. It is a very rare disease that mostly affects older adults.
However, the disease has been occurring more than usual in younger patients. Doctors don’t know yet the exact cause of eye melanoma.
The condition often starts in the middle of the three layers of the eye, which is the uvea. In rare cases, ocular melanoma attacks the conjunctiva or membrane that protects the front surface of the eye and the inner eyelids. It is not easily seen with the naked eye and has no early signs.
If symptoms do occur, they include a dark spot on the iris, blurred or distorted sight, a blind spot in peripheral vision, the sensation of flashing lights and a change in the shape of the pupil. To ensure your eye health, regularly visit your ophthalmologist for an eye exam.
Who Are at Risk of Ocular Melanoma?
The condition develops when the DNA of the pigment cells of the eye malfunctions. These errors make the cells multiply uncontrollably. The mutated cells in or on the eye accumulate and create a melanoma.
Certain risk factors for eye melanoma include extended exposure to natural and artificial sunlight, having light-colored eyes, old age, having Caucasian genes, inherited skin conditions, abnormal skin pigmentation in the eyelids or uvea, and having a mole in the eye or its surface.
If any of the risks above are present, it is strongly advisable to get your eyes checked. Early detection of the disease is important to avoid further vision problems.
Have your annual eye exam at Northern Virginia Doctors of Optometry, your local eye care provider. We also specialize in contact lenses and high-quality eyeglasses. Call us at (703) 413-1400, or complete our online form to schedule an appointment. We help patients in Arlington, VA.