Uveal melanoma is an intraocular tumour, which means that it will grow silently before any visible exterior change can be detected. The symptoms can start when there is a partial detachment of the retina (if this detachment is extensive, something called a secondary angle-closure glaucoma occasionally develops). The signs and symptoms are common to all eye cancer types and include the following:
· Sensation of flashing lights;
· Seeing spots or flashes of light;
· Poor or blurred vision in one eye;
· Change in the appearance of the eye, for example:
· Partial or complete loss of sight;
· Pain in or around the eye (rare with eye cancer).
· 'Blinkered' vision (loss of peripheral vision), one can see what is straight ahead clearly, but not the sides;
· A change in the dark spot on the coloured part of the eye (the iris) that becomes larger with time;
· Eye irritation, red eye or chronic inflammation of the conjunctiva (conjunctivitis).
Pain is a rare symptom unless the cancer has spread to the outside of the eye or has caused the pressure inside the eye (intraocular pressure) to become too high. In one third of cases the tumour is detected in a routine ophthalmologic evaluation, often with no symptoms reported by the patient.
A benign pigmented lesion in the eye such as a uveal nevus of a large size can be a risk factor and should be routinely checked.