How melanoma of the eye is diagnosed

Melanoma or cancer of the eye is a serious condition. Before undergoing eye surgery in the UAE, an ophthalmologist would perform different tests and procedures to determine a diagnosis. If the test results indicate melanoma, the doctor will refer you to an eye cancer specialist and further procedures are performed in ocular oncology centres. Here are some details of the tests that are likely to be performed:

An eye examination

Using many different instruments, an ophthalmologist would examine the structure of the eyes for abnormalities. Eye drops may be used to dilute the pupils making it easier for the doctors to study them closely. It’s advised not to drive or expose your eyes to bright light for an hour or two after dilution, due to blurred vision.

Ultrasound scan

Ultrasound of the eye is performed after the doctor applies a clear gel over closed eyelids and moves a small ultrasound probe over the skin. A local anaesthetic may be dropped into your eyes, after which ultrasound is performed. The procedure maybe a little bit uncomfortable, but not painful. In conditions such as an eye surgery in the UAE, your doctor may perform an ultrasound of the eye to proceed with the operation (if required).


Fluorescein Angiogram is a test performed by a special camera that takes images of the suspected cancer/melanoma in the eye. Blood vessels in and around the retina are probed closely after application of a dye through injection. The shot is given into the patient’s arm, after which the dye travels through the veins to the blood vessels of the eye. The camera then takes images of the dye allowing doctors to detect a potential tumour or foreign body causing the situation.

The fine needle aspiration biopsy

Although rare, a biopsy of the eye to diagnose melanoma is sometimes the final step before the consultant recommends eye surgery in the UAE. The test is performed by inserting a fine needle into the tumour and extracting a few cells using the syringe. The sample is then examined by a pathologist in a controlled lab environment. The entire procedure is performed under local or general anaesthesia.


There are possible complications following biopsy of the eye for melanoma. Temporary to permanent damage may occur, so always consult with a doctor before undergoing critical tests.

Testing for genetic details in the cells

In case of a positive diagnosis of eye melanoma, a pathologist would also examine the tumour after eye surgery in the UAE for chromosomal abnormalities in the tumour cells. This test is known as cytogenetic testing that allows doctors to predict if the cancer is likely to return or spread into the body.

For patients who aren’t willing to undergo surgery for the removal of the tumour, the doctor is likely to suggest a biopsy for cytogenetic testing performed immediately or shortly after the radiotherapy.


Melanoma of the eye can spread to the liver so your doctor is likely to recommend an ultrasound of the liver to check if it has spread.


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