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Malignant melanoma is a cancer that can affect the eyes as well as the skin, and is the most common type of cancer that occurs inside the eye. Malignant melanoma usually occurs in the choroid (the layer of blood vessels beneath the retina that supplies oxygen and nutrients to the eye) or the ciliary body (the muscles that focus the lens). However, it occasionally develops in the iris (the colored part of the eye).

Malignant melanoma affects only one eye and usually occurs in middle-aged or older people. Most tumors are detected during a routine eye examination by an ophthalmologist (eye MD). Others are brought to the doctor’s attention because of a gradual loss of vision in the affected eye.


Treatment for malignant melanoma may include radiation therapy to destroy the cancer cells or surgical removal of the affected eye (enucleation) to remove the tumor and help prevent the cancer from spreading. Because malignant melanoma can spread, your doctor will continue to monitor your condition after you have been treated.

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