If you are diagnosed with ocular melanoma, your treatment options will vary. Treatment depends on:
- the location and size of the melanoma
- and your general health
Generally, treatment options fall into two categories: radiation and surgery.
Ocular melanoma radiation
In radiation therapy, various types of radiation are used to kill the melanoma or keep it from growing.
The most common type of radiation therapy used for ocular melanoma is called plaque radiation therapy. Radioactive seeds are attached to a disk, called a plaque, and placed directly on the wall of the eye next to the tumor. The plaque, which looks like a tiny bottle cap, is often made of gold. This helps protect nearby tissues from damage from the radiation directed at the tumor. Temporary stitches hold the plaque in place for four or five days, before it is removed.
Radiation therapy can also be delivered by a machine. This machine directs a fine beam of radioactive particles to your eye. This type of radiation therapy is often done over the course of several days.
For smaller tumors, laser, heat energy, or both may be used for treatment.
Ocular melanoma surgery
Depending on the size and location of the melanoma, surgery may be recommended. The surgery may involve removing the tumor and some of the healthy tissue of the eye surrounding it.
For larger tumors, tumors that cause eye pain, and for tumors involving the optic nerve, the surgery may involve removing the entire eye (enucleation). After the eye is removed, an implant is put in its place and attached to the eye muscles, so that the implant can move. Once you are healed from the surgery, you will be fitted with an artificial eye (prosthesis). It will be custom painted to match your existing eye. Both radiation and surgery can damage the vision in your eye.
Conjunctival melanoma treatment
For melanoma on the surface of the eye, treatment can include chemotherapy eye drops, surgery, freezing treatment, and radiation.
You should talk to your ophthalmologist about how treatment may affect your vision. He or she can also explain the options available to you to help with any vision loss.