Eye Conditions and Treatment

Choroidal Melanoma is treated in the Retina Service and the Comprehensive Ophthalmology Faculty Practice

Melanoma (choroidal melanoma)

A choroidal melanoma is a malignant tumor composed of melanocytes—pigment (coloring matter) containing and producing cells normally present in the choroid (the pigmented vascular layer beneath the retina). If ignored, this type of tumor may spread to areas around the eye or metastasize to distant areas of the body (i.e., the liver or lung) and can cause death. Early detection and treatment may prevent these devastating events.

Signs and Symptoms

  • No symptoms initially if located away from the macula
  • Tumor that develops next to or in the macula may produce distorted and/or reduced vision
  • Tumors located away from the macula may produce changes in the visual field (side of vision) as they enlarge, and the patient may complain of a dark area or shadow to one side
  • Changes in the vitreous (the gel-like substance that fills the eye) and produce flashes of light or floaters (black spots)
  • Retinal detachment
  • Increased pigmentation on the sclera
  • Most choroidal melanomas are discovered by the ophthalmologist on routine examination

Treatment and Prevention

  • Enucleation, which is removal of the eye
  • Radioactive plaque therapy (sewing a disc with radiation to the eyewall)
  • External radiation therapy (using charged radioactive particles that are directed into the eye to treat the tumor)
  • Local resection techniques (cutting out the tumor while attempting to save the remainder of the eye)

Eye Facts logo linkFor a deeper understanding of the diagnosis and treatment plan for choridal melanoma, see Choroidal Mealnoma Eye Facts.