When most people think of melanoma, they think of skin, not eyes. But melanoma of the eye, called ocular melanoma, is a serious condition. Stanford Health Care is pioneering new treatments for this rare condition as well as other, more common eye conditions like glaucoma and cataracts. No matter what the condition, our doctors are committed to helping patients keep their vision.
Eye cancers are rare, but when detected early, customized treatments may help save the eye and retain vision. Stanford ophthalmologists and radiation oncologists are treating harmful eye melanomas with an advanced treatment called ocular brachytherapy.
Using sophisticated software to accurately target tumors in the eye, the technique involves temporarily placing a small radioactive implant on the eye for four to six days. The size and shape of the implant is customized to the location and size of the tumor. This technique delivers a very high dose of curative radiation to the tumor and negligible doses of radiation to the surrounding eyelashes, eyebrows, brain, nerves and the other eye.
In the past, patients were treated with external radiation therapy, which can take weeks of daily treatment with significant radiation doses to neighboring tissues. External radiation therapy remains a good treatment option for patients with larger tumors. But ocular brachytherapy is an ideal treatment for patients with small or medium-sized tumors.