When you think of melanoma, you most likely think of skin cancer, however, melanoma can also occur in the melanocytes (cells that produce the pigment melanin) of the eye. Around 2,000 new cases of melanoma of the eye, or ocular melanoma, are diagnosed each year, making up between five and 12 percent of all melanoma cases.
The exact cause of ocular melanoma is not known, however, as with skin cancer, it is more common in those who are caucasian, with light color eyes. The risk factor also increases with age. People with dysplastic nevus syndrome, which is characterized by a high amount of moles, have a higher risk of developing melanoma of the eye. In addition, exposure to the sun or tanning beds is thought to increase the risk.
This cancer develops in the uvea, the middle region of your eye and is therefore hard to detect because you can’t see this part of your eye by looking in a mirror. During the early stages there usually aren't any symptoms. It is frequently found in routine eye exams. For people with high risk factors, it is important to have regular eye exams.
According to the American