Melvyn Wyke first saw an optometrist in 2013. His optometrist detected presbyopia which is long-sightedness caused by loss of elasticity of the lens of the eye. His optometrist prescribed spectacles to correct his condition.
Melvyn continued to have an eye examination each year and in May 2015 his optometrist, Zahir Panju MCOptom at Ashtead Eye Clinic detected a minor lesion in his eye. This was detected during a fundoscopy, a test that allows an optometrist to see inside the person’s eye using an ophthalmoscope.
At this point, Melvyn was referred to his GP and tests showed that he had choroidal melanoma, a cancerous tumour, in his eye. This is a rare form of cancer; six people in a million will be diagnosed with a choroidal melanoma each year. Most choroidal melanoma patients have no symptoms and the melanoma is found on routine eye examination. If patients with choroidal melanoma do show symptoms, they will usually see flashes of light, they may notice distortion or loss of vision and floating objects (floaters) in their vision. This type of melanoma can spread and be fatal if it is not detected at an early stage. However, compared to a similar-sized malignant melanoma of the skin, patients are much more likely to survive a choroidal melanoma. This is because it is much more difficult for a choroidal melanoma to spread from the eye to other parts of the body.
Most choroidal melanoma patients have no symptoms and the melanoma is found on routine eye examination.
Melvyn had treatment at Moorfields Eye Hospital in London and was given ruthenium plaque brachytherapy, a widely used treatment for his type of melanoma, which delivers a highly concentrated radiation dose to the tumour. This type of therapy is typically delivered in one treatment.
Melvyn stayed in the hospital for two weeks following treatment, his eye was red and pupil was dilated, but this was short term and has now returned to normal. Melvyn’s tumour was detected at an early stage, thus saving his eye. He is currently being monitored by his ophthalmologist every three/four months, and will undergo further treatment if necessary.
Unfortunately, as part of this health monitoring, another form of cancer was detected; a form of bone marrow cancer. However, his condition is being monitored, and thus far has not progressed. Melvyn says; “I am very grateful because by detecting this problem, my optometrist may have saved my life, and certainly my eye. If I hadn’t visited the optometrist I would never have known about these two conditions and would not be getting the excellent care that has been given to me”.
More about choroidal melanoma
UV exposure is directly related to incidence of melanoma of the eye and melanoma of the skin. Wearing sunglasses with UVA and UVB protects the eyes from harm just as UV skin creams protect the skin.
Choroidal melanoma is more common among patients that:
- have blue eyes, rather than those with brown eyes
- have outdoor occupations
- are living in Australia.
Note to editors
- Previously known as ophthalmic opticians, optometrists are trained professionals who examine eyes, test sight, give advice on visual problems, and prescribe and dispense spectacles or contact lenses. They also recommend other treatments or visual aids where appropriate. Optometrists are trained to recognise eye diseases, referring such cases as necessary, and can also use or supply various eye drugs.
- Optometrists study at university for at least three years and participate in a full year of training and supervision, called the pre-registration year, before qualifying. Once qualified, they have the opportunity to develop their interests in specialist aspects of practice such as contact lenses, treating eye diseases, low vision, children’s vision and sports vision.
- For information and advice about how to look after your eyes visit: www.lookafteryoureyes.org
- The letters FCOptom or MCOptom after an optometrist’s name means that he or she is a fellow or member of the College of Optometrists.Membership of the College shows their commitment to the very highest clinical, ethical and professional standards, so look for these letters to see if your optometrist is a member.
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