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Sometimes, you may feel as though your annual, routine eye exams are not something you do not really need. After all, you are very busy and your eyes seem to be functioning just fine for the time being. However, before you forgo your regular eye appointments and exams, you should know that eye exams detect more than just changes in your vision. They can also be used to see if you may have a more serious eye disorder such as choroidal melanoma. So, before you cancel your next appointment to get your eyes checked, get to know some of the important facts about choroidal melanoma. Then, you will understand the importance of proper eye care and regular appointments.
What Is Choroidal Melanoma?
Choroidal melanoma is a cancer of the eye that begins in the blood vessels beneath the retina of the eye. This blood vessel layer beneath the retina is known as the choroid.
These malignant eye tumors can grow rapidly and the cancer can spread easily to other areas of the body if the malignancy in the eye goes undetected. The exact time at which the tumor will be large enough to warrant treatment or may spread to other areas of the body is unknown, but early detection is key in proper treatment and growth prevention.
How Is Choroidal Melanoma Diagnosed?
Choroidal melanoma is most often diagnosed through a routine comprehensive eye exam. A retinal exam in particular is best used to detect a choroidal melanoma.
In the images produced by a retinal exam, a choroidal melanoma tumor appears as a dark spot or mass in the scan. This dark spot is indicative that something is growing behind the retina, affecting the clarity of the scan. If a dark mass is detected in the retinal exam, your ophthalmologist will likely perform an ultrasound to determine the size and scope of the tumor.
What Are The Treatment Options?
Once you are diagnosed with choroidal melanoma, you will want to know your treatment options. If the tumor is small and you are not experiencing symptoms, your ophthalmologist may prefer to wait and observe your tumor before beginning a treatment protocol. This step is used to document any tumor growth and monitor whether the tumor is stable or expanding.
Generally, choroidal tumors are treated primarily with radiation therapy techniques. In some cases, small radioactive pellets or seeds are implanted into the tumor or as close to the tumor as possible. These pellets emit radiation that is used to stop tumor growth and even shrink the existing tumor. Radiation therapy can also be performed through external beams aimed at the tumor cells over several sessions (proton beam radiation therapy) or in a single session (stereotactic radiosurgery).
In some cases, the surgical resection of the choroidal melanoma is also possible depending on the size and precise location of the tumor. Additionally, chemotherapy may also be an option if the cancer has spread to other areas. Another reason you might pursue chemotherapy is if it seems necessary to prevent spreading as other treatments are used to shrink the tumor.
As you can see, your regular eye exams are a vital component of maintaining your eye health. Choroidal melanomas are among the most serious eye conditions that your regular eye and retinal exams can detect. Talk with a clinic like Forest Hills Retina Center for more information on how to best protect your eye health.Share