Sunlight exposure as risk factor for intraocular malignant melanoma

N Engl J Med. 1985 Sep 26;313(13):789-92. doi: 10.1056/NEJM198509263131305.


In a case-control study, we compared 444 patients with intraocular malignant melanoma with matched controls to evaluate the role of exposure to ultraviolet radiation and other risk factors in the pathogenesis of this tumor. Persons born in the southern United States had a relative risk of 2.7 (95 per cent confidence interval, 1.3 to 5.9) as compared with those born in the North. Subjects with brown eyes were protected as compared with those with blue eyes (relative risk, 0.6; 95 per cent confidence interval, 0.4 to 0.8), but complexion and hair color were not important risk factors. Patients with intraocular malignant melanoma were also more likely to have spent time outdoors in their gardens, to have sunbathed, and to have used sunlamps. Rarely wearing hats, visors, or sunglasses while in the sun was a risk factor for the disease (relative risk, 1.9; 95 per cent confidence interval, 1.6 to 2.2). These data suggest that sunlight exposure is an important risk factor for intraocular melanoma.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Eyeglasses
  • Humans
  • Leisure Activities
  • Melanoma / epidemiology
  • Melanoma / etiology*
  • Neoplasms, Radiation-Induced / epidemiology
  • Neoplasms, Radiation-Induced / etiology*
  • Risk
  • Sunlight / adverse effects*
  • Time Factors
  • Ultraviolet Rays / adverse effects
  • United States
  • Uveal Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Uveal Neoplasms / etiology*