What Is Ocular Melanoma?


Credit: Dina Zadorozhnaya / Eyeem

In our November issue, you will find “Love, Loss, and Fruit Salad,” in which I wrote about, among other things, my husband Mark’s battle with ocular melanoma (OM). Ocular melanoma, also called uveal or choroidal melanoma, is a form of cancer that develops in the eye. It is very rare—only about 2,000 cases are diagnosed in the United States each year. Of those patients, about half will develop metastatic disease.

Because OM is so rare, very little is known about it. Treatments are available for the eye tumors, but there is no approved treatment for metastatic disease (cancer that has spread beyond the eye), and prognosis after metastasis is poor. Many patients go the route my husband did and participate in clinical trials. These can be helpful, but as of yet, there is no cure.

If you would like to learn more about ocular melanoma or make a donation to help fund OM research, visit cureom.org. You can also visit the websites of Mark’s main doctors—he received treatment from some of the best OM doctors in the country. Drs. Carol and Jerry Shields are the directors of the Ocular Oncology Service at Wills Eye Hospital, and Dr. Takami Sato is the director of the metastatic ocular melanoma division at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital. Both are in Philadelphia.

More from Susan:


  1. Lynn

    My young friend Melissa is a survivor of ocular melanoma. She went to the eye doctor to get a new prescription for her contacts, since her vision had worsened. He thought her retina was detaching, so she was in surgery later that day. And then they found the tumor. Her eye had to be removed, but she is doing well a few years after.

    I hope your husband’s treatment is going well – this is indeed such a rare form of cancer that is not often heard about.

    November 3, 2015 at 5:31 am

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