Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Ocular Melanoma: Be Aware!

You may not be aware of a type of eye cancer called Ocular Melanoma, but for anyone concerned about eye health and vision it is a problem worth learning a little bit about.

What is Ocular Melanoma?
Ocular Melanoma (OM) is actually the most common form of cancer that occurs in the eye. In the U.S. alone there are some 2,500 adults who are diagnosed with Ocular Melanoma (OM). OM is an aggressive malignant cancer that starts in the eye’s pigment cells that produce the eye color that you see in the iris and the pigmented layer of the retina. Ocular Melanoma tends to occur in more often in people over 50 years of age with lighter skin pigmentation and more often those with, blue or green eyes. That said, OM also can occur in people of every race and at any age. For about 50 percent of individuals diagnosed with OM, the cancer may be fatal, because it metastasizes and spreads to other parts of the body. OM is considered a silent killer. There are no early warning signs, and it is difficult if not impossible to see when studying your eyes in the mirror.

How is Ocular Melanoma Diagnosed?
Ocular Melanoma is often detected by an eye doctor during a routine eye exam in an otherwise healthy patient. This is what scheduling regular eye exams are so important. While at first there may not be obvious symptoms, once OM has developed you may experience blurred vision, a change in the shape of the pupil, flashing lights, a loss of vision and sometimes a dark spot on the iris. Researchers have discovered that people with OM tend to have certain gene mutations, which could suggest there is a strong genetic component to the disease. However, scientists have not concluded that these abnormalities are the cause. They believe there may be a connection between the development of OM and prolonged exposure to sunlight or artificial light, such as from tanning beds, but there is not significant research confirming this link.

If you or someone you know is concerned about the risk of Ocular Melanoma (OM) please schedule a comprehensive eye examination and call Northwest Indiana Eye & Laser Center at 219-464-8223, or visit Northwest Indiana Eye & Laser Center, Google+ or facebook.com/nwindianaeyeandlaser

Northwest Indiana Eye & Laser Center offices are located at 502 Marquette Street, Valparaiso, Indiana 46383 and 1001 South Edgewood Drive, Knox, Indiana 46354.