Amelanotic choroidal nevus and melanoma: cytology, tumor size, and pigmentation as prognostic indicators

Optom Vis Sci. 2001 Jul;78(7):483-91. doi: 10.1097/00006324-200107000-00010.


Background: Choroidal nevi are fairly common lesions of the posterior pole that can sometimes transform into melanoma, and it is thought that most choroidal melanomas arise from preexisting nevi. Occasionally, these lesions present as nonpigmented or amelanotic variations of their pigmented counterparts. Recent studies suggest a relationship between tumor pigmentation and risk of growth and metastasis, with a better prognosis for lightly pigmented or amelanotic lesions.

Case reports: A case of an amelanotic choroidal nevus and melanoma are presented. In Case 1, a 26-year-old white female was found to have a large amelanotic nevus in the right eye. After 7 years of periodic observation, the lesion has not changed. In Case 2, a 51-year-old white male was diagnosed with a large amelanotic melanoma in the left eye. Due to extensive involvement of the optic nerve, the patient underwent enucleation. Histological evaluation confirmed the lesion as a mixed-cell type malignant amelanotic melanoma.

Conclusion: Management of choroidal nevi generally consists of periodic observation, and the most widely accepted management of choroidal melanoma is observation, radiotherapy, and transpupillary thermotherapy or enucleation. The therapeutic modality of choice for melanoma will vary depending on the size, growth, and location of the lesion. In addition, recent studies suggest an association between heavy tumor pigmentation, tumor size, cell type, and risk of metastasis. Although many variables will influence the final treatment option, pigmentation of the lesion should also be considered.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Choroid Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Eye Enucleation
  • Female
  • Fluorescein Angiography
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Melanoma, Amelanotic / pathology*
  • Middle Aged
  • Nevus / pathology*
  • Pigmentation
  • Prognosis
  • Visual Fields