Tests and diagnosis

By Mayo Clinic Staff

To diagnose eye melanoma, your doctor may recommend:

  • Eye exam. Your doctor will examine the outside of your eye, looking for enlarged blood vessels that can indicate a tumor inside your eye. Then, with the help of instruments, your doctor will look inside your eye. One method, called ophthalmoscopy, uses lenses and a bright light mounted on your doctor's forehead — a bit like a miner's lamp. Another method, called slit-lamp biomicroscopy, uses a microscope that produces an intense beam of light to illuminate the interior of your eye.
  • Eye ultrasound. An eye ultrasound uses high-frequency sound waves from a hand-held, wand-like apparatus called a transducer to produce images of your eye. The transducer is placed on your closed eyelid or on the front surface of your eye.
  • Imaging of the blood vessels in and around the tumor (angiogram). During an angiogram of your eye, a colored dye is injected into a vein in your arm. The dye travels to the blood vessels in your eye. A camera with special filters to detect the dye takes flash pictures every few seconds for several minutes.
  • Removing a sample of suspicious tissue for testing. In some cases, your doctor may recommend a procedure to remove a sample of tissue (biopsy) from your eye. To remove the sample, a thin needle is inserted into your eye and used to extract suspicious tissue. The tissue is tested in a laboratory to determine whether it contains eye melanoma cells. Eye biopsy isn't usually necessary to diagnose eye melanoma.

Determining whether cancer has spread

Your doctor may also recommend additional tests and procedures to determine whether the melanoma has spread (metastasized) to other parts of your body. Tests may include:

  • Blood tests to measure liver function
  • Chest X-ray
  • Computerized tomography (CT) scan
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
  • Abdominal ultrasound
Aug. 08, 2012