Ocular Melanoma Eye Patch Day
Ocular Melanoma Foundation (OMF) is one of the leading support organizations focused on finding a cure for ocular melanoma eye cancer. As part of Melanoma Awareness Month, OMF is proud to support the annual Eye Patch Day to increase awareness of ocular melanoma and the need for dilated eye exams.
On May 17th-19th, OMF Warriors around the globe will wear eye patches to raise awareness for ocular melanoma. Wearing an eye patch is a great way to start a conversation with co-workers, friends and neighbors about ocular melanoma and how important it is to see an ophthalmologist regularly.
What is Ocular Melanoma?
Ocular Melanoma (OM) is an aggressive form of cancer that can involve any of three areas of the eye: the iris, the ciliary body, and/or the choroid or posterior uvea. These three areas are collectively known as the uvea or uveal tract, and OM can occur in any combination of the three.
OM is diagnosed in approximately 2,000 adults annually in the United States. This equates to about 5 - 6 cases per million people per year and, for people over 50 years old, the incidence rate increases to around 21 per million per year. Similar to melanoma of the skin, OM is a little understood and silent killer.
Risk Factors & Prevention
It is unclear exactly how and why someone gets OM and, as of now, there is no way to prevent it.
The majority of OM is thought to occur by chance (often referred to as sporadic), and everyone is at some risk of developing eye cancer. The genes that control growth in uveal cells obtain a mistake or become missing altogether. It is believed that certain risk factors including eye (iris) color, skin color, ancestry, tanning ability and a family history of ocular melanoma can predispose an individual to OM and the American Academy of Ophthalmology states that these factors may increase your risk for developing melanoma.
While OM is not included in the list of 'preventable cancers,' and as mentioned above there is no known cause of OM as there is, say, with lung cancer, whether you are a patient or not, OMF recommends you take precautionary -- and perhaps ultimately preventative -- measures against eye cancer. These include: reduce UV exposure, stay active and exercise regularly, eat right, reduce stress and focus on enjoying life, and see an ophthalmologist regularly.
Source: Ocular Melanoma Foundation