Conjunctival melanoma is a rare type of cancer that affects the eye. It often appears as a brown or pink spot on the white of the eye. The lesion is painless and, as such, is often dismissed by patients until it changes in size, shape, or color. Upon examination, it may potentially be misdiagnosed as a conjunctival nevus – a benign pigmented lesion more akin to a freckle.
Lesions associated with conjunctival melanoma are often supplied with nutrients by prominent blood vessels and can vary greatly in size. For many patients, the lesion can be monitored by an ophthalmologist two to three times each year to ensure it remains stable. In some cases, the lesions can invade deeper into the orbit or metastasize to different parts of the body. If the mass invades the orbit, surgical removal of the eye – called enucleation – may be necessary. Approximately half of all patients with conjunctival melanoma will have a recurrence of the ocular lesion and 1 in 4 will experience metastasis to another area of the body. Most commonly, the cancer spreads to the brain, liver, lungs, or specific lymph nodes in the head and neck.
While incidence of conjunctival melanoma is rare, it is essential that any lesions on the eyes or lids should be checked by an ophthalmologist. It is important for everyone to have routine visits with your eye doctor to ensure optimum eye health. Contact Grosinger, Spigelman & Grey, the leading ophthalmologists in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan for an appointment today.