Belmont Eye - Dr. Wruble Downtown Belmont, NC Eye Exams

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Written By Walter Leonard 12/5/2015

   OCULAR MELANOMA IN GASTON COUNTY
                             
                                 BY: Dr. Brad Wruble

You may be aware of the recent news regarding Ocular Melanoma.  A form of eye cancer, 19 or more cases of Ocular Melanoma have been diagnosed in Huntersville, NC and surrounding cities including Belmont and Mt. Holly. Here is what you need to know regarding Ocular Melanoma:

What is Ocular Melanoma?
IT IS RARE! Ocular Melanoma is diagnosed in about 2,500 adults every year in the entire United States (as of 2016 the US population was around 325 million). Most common patients are Caucasian males with light eye color (blue or green), around the age of 55 years old. However, it can occur in all races and at any age as seen with the cases in Huntersville.

What causes Ocular Melanoma?
Unfortunately, there is no exact cause, however, it is theorized that exposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun or tanning beds can increase the risk of melanoma on the skin.

Three cases of Ocular Melanoma were found in students from Hopewell High School in Huntersville, NC. Soil samples were recently collected from the school’s campus to see if there was a possible environmental cause for the cancer’s surge. Also an engineer from Atlanta has been working on a theory of Microwave Radiation Pollution where he is analyzing pulse signals from the powerful Charlotte weather radar tower.

How do I know if I have it?

Most eye cancers form in the eye in areas not visible when looking in a mirror. This makes ocular melanoma difficult to detect. Three areas of the eye that in can affect: the iris (the colored part surrounding your pupil), the ciliary body (a thin tissue layer in your eye), or the choroid (the back of the eyeball).

In some cases, patients experience mild blurred vision, flashes of light in their vision, shadows or cloudiness; some patients have no symptoms at all.  Due to the wide range of symptoms, or even no symptoms, the best way to put your mind at ease is with a complete eye exam from your local Optometrist or Ophthalmologist.  Just like on your skin the eye doctor will look for suspicious lesions in the eye and document the size, shape, color, and location.

Can it be treated?

Treatment can vary for each patient depending on the stage of Ocular Melanoma at the time of detection.  Common therapies include focused plaque radiation therapy and surgery. The prognosis can vary among individuals depending on the severity of the condition.

What can I do to protect myself?

Protecting your eyes from UV radiation by wearing UV rated sunglasses, eliminating the use of tanning beds and wearing a wide-brim hat can all help.  A comprehensive routine eye exam remains the best way to diagnose Ocular Melanoma.

*Dr. Wruble is a residency trained ocular disease optometrist and the owner of Belmont Eye in Belmont, NC.