Ocular melanoma, or “OM” for short, is the most common eye cancer found in adults. It is diagnosed in about 2,500 adults every year in the United States, making it also one of the rarest forms of eye cancer. It occurs when eye pigment cells’ DNA is mutated causing them to multiply out of control and collect within the eye.
It is not clear why eye melanomas develop. We do know that people born with certain growths in or on the eye, as well as those with lighter colored eyes, are at a greater risk for developing ocular melanoma. Some other causes may be increased by exposure to sunlight or artificial sunlight (tanning beds), having certain inherited skin conditions, or simply older age.