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Ocular Melanoma: Treatments and Services

The treatment method used for ocular melanoma depends not only on the size and location of the tumor (choroid, ciliary body, or iris), but also whether or not the cancer has spread. The patient's overall health must also be taken into account. The main goals in treating ocular melanoma are to prevent the spread of the tumor and to maintain the patient's vision. The following methods of treatment may be used for the treatment of ocular melanoma:

Observation may be used for the treatment of small or slowly growing ocular tumors. It may also be the best option for those whose cancer is in their only functioning eye. If the cancer grows larger than 10mm in width or 2-3mm in height (thickness), the doctor and the patient may begin to sort through alternate treatment options.

Surgery is a common procedure for the treatment of ocular melanoma. A doctor will remove the affected parts of the eye depending on the size and spread of the tumor.

In some cases, the Removal of the Eye (Enucleation) is the only viable treatment option in order to save the patient's life. With the loss of an eye, a patient will have to work through various issues with depth perception and vision. Most patients adjust to these differences within a year.

Most patients are worried about what they may look like after the removal of an eye. There are many cosmetic options and plastic prostheses that can be used to restore a normal looking appearance.

Radiation Therapy uses high-energy beams to kill the cancer. Radiation therapy can be conducted using proton beams (charged particles), brachytherapy (internal radiation), or traditional external radiation. Radiation therapy is a localized therapy that treats only the area surrounding the cancer.

There are often times many side effects to radiation therapy. Radiation to the eye can result in cataracts (cloudy eye lens), loss of eye lashes, or dry eyes. There are often methods of treatment that can alleviate symptoms that result from radiation to the eye.

Laser Therapy uses heat from lasers to shrink smaller tumors. This method usually has fewer side effects than surgery and radiation therapy.

Emory Eye Center physicians are involved in numerous clinical trials and studies. Being part of a major medical center allows access to collaborative studies not otherwise possible. Emory Eye Center has ongoing clinical trials for the treatment of many eye disorders and diseases.

Our basic scientists work every day to fight blinding eye disease, providing innovative research that may translate into clinical treatments.

Learn about Clinical Trials at Emory Winship Cancer Institute