Melanoma can be diagnosed in the eye - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

Melanoma can be diagnosed in the eye

Doctors were able to diagnose melanoma in Joy Baker's eye thanks to an annual exam. Doctors were able to diagnose melanoma in Joy Baker's eye thanks to an annual exam.
CAPE GIRARDEAU, MO (KFVS) - This time of year skin cancer is a hot topic as people soak up the sun.

However, doctors say don't forget to protect your eyes.

You can get melanoma in your eye.

In the last year Leet EyeCare in Cape Girardeau has seen two cases of the disease in the last year.

Dr. Ryne Wood said that is a surprise since this type of cancer is so rare.

In fact, recent research shows only seven patients out of each million people aged 30 to 70 will be diagnosed with chorodial melanoma each year.

To Joy Baker's surprise, she was diagnosed in January 2014.

"He was looking at the eye and in a few minutes he said you've got a melanoma. I said what?" Baker said.

Before then, she had never even heard of melanoma in your eye.

While some may show symptoms, Baker said she had none.

"Different doctors up there they asked me what symptoms did you have, and I said, 'Symptoms? I didn't have any.' They said you didn't have flashing lights or this or that and I said no," Baker explained.

Dr. Wood said zero symptoms is more common then you would think.

"What's kind of scary about this form of cancer I think is that the majority of people who have it, have no idea," Wood said. "Like Ms. Baker... She was seeing 20/20, no complaints, was here for an annual exam and there it was."

That's why Wood said it is so important to have an annual eye exam.

"Most patients unfortunately are under the impression, 'I see well, my eyes are fine,'" Wood said. "Even those eyes that don't have glasses or contacts or some other sort of pathology there is still reason... [to] make sure we get our eyes screened and make sure everything is nice and healthy."

Chorodial melanoma does have a high chance of spreading to the lungs and the liver.

Thankfully that was not the case for Baker.

All it took was a radiation patch and she was on her way.

"I went in and they attached it to the back of the eye," Baker said. "And then I was in the hospital for in St. Louis for five days in isolation because people couldn't be exposed to the radiation. And then after five days they did a reverse surgery and sent me home."

She calls it a "narrow escape" all thanks to an annual check-up.

"They caught it early and thanks to the optomap that Dr. Leet uses, otherwise I don't know how far it could have advanced into the liver and the lungs and who knows what," Baker said. "So I felt I was very blessed and lucky."

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