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Uveal Melanoma

Adult Ocular Oncology

Phoenix Children’s Hospital offers advanced care for adolescents and adults who have uveal melanoma. This rare cancer develops in part of the eye called the uvea, which includes:

  • Iris – The colored part of your eye
  • Ciliary body – The thick ring of muscular tissue behind your iris
  • Choroid – A middle layer of tissue and blood vessels

Uveal melanoma commonly develops in the choroid area and may be called choroid melanoma. Other uveal melanomas start in the iris and ciliary body. An iris tumor can be easier to catch early because it’s visible on the surface of your eye.

Ocular (Eye) Melanomas

Most people are familiar with melanoma as a type of skin cancer that develops in pigmented skin cells called melanocytes. Although it’s much less common, melanoma can also affect your eyes and other parts of your body.

Melanoma is among the most common eye cancers diagnosed in adults. In addition to uveal melanoma, ocular melanomas include conjunctival melanoma, which affects the surface of your eye or the inner eyelid.

Symptoms of Uveal Melanoma

Experts don’t know what causes uveal melanoma, but possible risk factors may include fair skin light-colored eyes, sun exposure, age and freckles, moles or other lesions on skin or eyes.

Uveal melanoma doesn’t always have visible or obvious symptoms, but doctors can diagnose this condition during a routine eye exam.

When symptoms are present, they may include:

  • A spot on the colored part of your eye
  • Blurred vision or other vision changes
  • Changes in shape, size or position of pupils or eyes
  • Floaters (shadowy spots or figures in your vision)
  • Photopsia (flashes of light in your eye)

Tell your eye doctor about these or any other changes in your vision or eyes.

Evaluation and Diagnosis

Your eye doctor can identify uveal melanoma during a routine eye exam. You may be referred to an ocular oncologist at Phoenix Children’s Hospital for specialized diagnostic evaluation and care.

In addition to a physical exam, and medical history, doctors use a number of tests to evaluate cancer and determine whether and where it may have spread. Additional testing can assess the condition of your liver and other organs and systems.

Diagnostic tests may include:

  • Abdominal ultrasound
  • Angiogram of blood vessels in and near the tumor
  • Biopsy
  • Blood tests
  • CT scan
  • Eye ultrasound
  • MRI scan
  • PET scan
  • X-ray exams


If you have uveal melanoma, our specialists will talk with you and your family about the best care plan for your condition. Treatment varies depending on the type and size of the cancer, where the tumor is located, whether it has spread and threatens your vision or health, and other considerations.

Typical treatment options include:

  • Laser therapy
  • Radiation therapy
  • Surgery

Contact Us

Visit us online for referrals or to schedule an appointment or call 602-933-5437.

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