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About the Ocular Melanoma Center

  • The Ocular Melanoma Center at Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women's Cancer Center (DF/BWCC) is dedicated to treating patients with ocular melanoma in addition to studying the disease and developing treatments through innovative clinical trials.

    When facing ocular melanoma, it is critical to take a multidisciplinary approach to treatment. Here, our leading medical oncologists, ophthalmologists, radiation oncologists, and interventional radiologists work in tandem to create a comprehensive plan.

    During treatment, you will also have access to our patient-centered care including social workers, nutritionists, and integrative therapists among other resources. Helping patients and their families navigate through the entire cancer experience is a core part of our mission.

    About Ocular Melanoma

    Ocular melanoma, also known as uveal or choroidal melanoma, is a rare disease, yet is the most common eye cancer found in adults. Approximately 2,500 adults are diagnosed with ocular melanoma each year.

    Ocular melanoma develops on the eye's uveal tract, which is made up of the iris, ciliary body, and choroid. Like skin or cutaneous melanoma, ocular melanoma develops from cells called melanocytes. In the eye, these are the cells that produce the pigment that give the eye color. However, ocular melanoma is a very different disease, with a different genetic makeup than skin melanoma.

    Though the cause is unclear, individuals with fair skin that burns easily are at a higher risk. However, unlike skin melanoma, there is no evidence that ocular melanoma is related to sun exposure.

    Signs and Symptoms of Ocular Melanoma

    Because most ocular melanomas occur in a part of the eye you can’t see, they can be difficult to detect.

    Symptoms, when they develop, include:

    • A dark spot on the iris or conjunctiva
    • Blurred or distorted vision or a blind spot in your side vision
    • The sensation of flashing lights