May Spotlight: Raising Awareness for Ocular Melanoma and Eye Health

close up photo of green eye

Photo by Wojtek Pacześ

May serves as a pivotal month for eye health awareness, focusing attention on ocular melanoma, a lesser-known yet serious form of eye cancer. While the exact causes of most eye cancers remain elusive, there are proactive steps individuals can take to safeguard their eye health. At Zenni, we prioritize not only providing trendy and budget-friendly eyewear but also advocating for eye health awareness. In this blog post, we’ll explore the significance of annual eye exams and share tips for reducing the risk of ocular melanoma.

Understanding Ocular Melanoma

Ocular melanoma, also referred to as uveal melanoma, arises from pigment-producing cells within the eye. Similar to how melanoma can develop on your skin, it can also develop inside your eye or on your conjunctiva. Although relatively uncommon, its impact on vision and overall health can be profound if left undetected. Symptoms may manifest as changes in vision, including blurriness or the emergence of dark spots within the eye, along with sensations of flashing lights or shadows.

Annual Eye Exams: A Vital Safeguard

Regular eye examinations play a pivotal role in the early detection of ocular melanoma and other ocular conditions. During these comprehensive evaluations, optometrists and/or ophthalmologists carefully examine the eyes for any irregularities, such as alterations in iris shape or color, abnormal pigmentation, or structural changes. Timely detection facilitates prompt intervention and improved prognosis.

Girl getting her eyes examined in a slit lamp

Photo by Ksenia Chernaya

Tips for Risk Reduction

While the precise etiology of ocular melanoma remains uncertain, adopting certain measures can potentially mitigate risk:

  • UV Protection: Protecting your eyes from UV radiation is crucial. Following the advice of the American Cancer Society, it’s recommended to wear UV-protected sunglasses when outdoors in strong sunlight. Opt for sunglasses with UV protection, even on overcast days. For optimal safeguarding, consider wrap-around sunglasses with 100% UVA and UVB absorption, effectively reducing the risk of both eye and skin cancers.
  • Sun-Smart Practices: Employ sun-smart practices, such as limiting exposure to intense sunlight, donning protective hats and clothing, and applying sunscreen liberally. These precautions can attenuate the risk of cutaneous melanomas, including those affecting the skin around the eyes.
  • Maintain a Healthy Lifestyle: Eating a balanced diet, exercising regularly, and maintaining a healthy weight can contribute to overall health, including eye health.
  • Be Mindful of Your Family History: If you have a family history of ocular melanoma or other eye conditions, make sure to inform your eye care provider. They may recommend more frequent eye exams or additional screening tests.
  • Stay Vigilant: Pay attention to any changes in your vision or the appearance of your eyes, and don’t hesitate to schedule an eye exam if you notice anything unusual.

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Elevating Eye Health: A Collective Endeavor

As Ocular Melanoma Awareness Month comes to an end, let’s prioritize ocular health and collective well-being. By scheduling routine eye examinations and embracing preventative measures, we fortify our defenses against ocular malignancies. At Zenni, we remain steadfast in our commitment to fostering eye health awareness and empowering individuals to safeguard their vision and vitality.

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Alyssa Buchanan

Dr. Alyssa Buchanan is an optometrist based in Lubbock, Texas. She received her doctorate from Western University of Health Sciences in Pomona, California, and has practiced in various settings including Fort Cavazos where she provided eye care for deploying soldiers. Dr. Buchanan has since received her Master’s degree in Healthcare Administration and continues to strive to provide top-notch eyecare and make a meaningful impact in the eyecare industry.