• Ocular Melanoma Diagnosis

    Reviewed By Odalys Mendoza MD
    Oct. 28, 2020

    Diagnosing eye melanoma begins with a dilated eye exam by an ophthalmologist. Because ocular melanoma may not cause any symptoms at first, the disease is often detected during a routine eye exam.

    A melanoma differs from a nevus, or mole, in or on the eye. Melanomas inside the eye may have different colors ranging from dark to light brown, orange, or no color at all. They are thicker and than usual and can leak fluid.

    If your ophthalmologist suspects that you have ocular melanoma, he or she may recommend more tests. These may include:

    Ultrasound examination of the eye

    An ultrasound examination of the eye is a procedure in which high-energy sound waves (ultrasound) are bounced off the internal tissues of the eye to make echoes. Eye drops are used to numb the eye and a small probe that sends and receives sound waves is placed gently on the surface of the eye. The echoes make a picture of the inside of the eye. The resulting image allows the ophthalmologist to measure the size of the melanoma.

    Fluorescein angiography

    This procedure uses a dye injected into your arm, which travels into your eye. A special camera then takes pictures of the inside of your eye to see if there is any blockage or leakage.

    Fundus autofluorescence

    This test uses a special kind of camera that makes areas of damage reveal themselves as small points of light in a photograph.

    Optical coherence tomography

    Also known as OCT, this imaging test takes highly detailed pictures of the inside of your eye.


    If your ophthalmologist thinks you have a conjunctival melanoma, he or she may perform a biopsy. This is when the growth is removed from the surface of the eye. The tissue is then tested and examined in a laboratory. Biopsies are not usually needed to diagnose ocular melanoma, but may reveal information about the tumor and if it might spread to other parts of the body.

    Your ophthalmologist may refer you to another specialist to do more tests to determine whether the melanoma has spread (metastasized).These tests may need to be repeated regularly for many years.