If your melanoma is small, it may not require immediate treatment. Instead, you and your Eye M.D. may decide to watch the melanoma closely to see if it grows. If it does, or if it begins to cause complications, you may decide to undergo treatment.

Generally, treatment options fall into two categories: radiation and surgery.

Ocular melanoma radiation

In radiation therapy, high-powered x-rays or other types of radiation are used to kill the melanoma or keep it from growing.

In the most common type of radiation therapy used for ocular melanoma, called plaque radiation therapy, radioactive seeds are attached to a disk, called a plaque, and placed directly on the wall of the eye where the tumor is located. The plaque, which resembles a tiny bottle cap, is often made of gold to help 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 that directs radioactive particles to your eye through an external beam. This type of radiation therapy is often administered over the course of several days.

Ocular melanoma surgery

Depending on the size and location of the melanoma, your Eye M.D. may recommend surgery as a treatment option. For smaller tumors, the surgery may involve removing the tumor and some of the healthy tissue of the eye surrounding it.

For larger tumors and for tumors that cause eye pain, 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) which will be custom painted to match your existing eye. Both radiation and surgery can damage the vision in your eye. You should talk to your Eye M.D. about the impact that your treatment may have on your vision and the options available to you to help with any vision loss.

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