Diagnosing eye melanoma begins with a dilated eye exam by an ophthalmologist (Eye M.D.) Because ocular melanoma may not show any symptoms at first, the disease is often detected during a routine eye exam.
A melanoma is distinguished from a nevus, or mole in the eye, by certain characteristics. Melanomas are more often orange, thicker than usual or are leaking fluid.
If your Eye M.D. suspects that you have ocular melanoma, he or she may recommend additional 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. Eyedrops 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 thickness of the melanoma.
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 determine if there is any blockage or leakage.
In some cases, your ophthalmologist may perform a biopsy, in which he or she removes a sample of tissue from your eye so that it can be examined in a laboratory. Biopsies are not usually needed to diagnose ocular melanoma.
It is important to know whether the cancer has spread to other parts of your body. Your ophthalmologist may refer you to another specialist to conduct additional tests to determine whether the melanoma has spread (metastasized).
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