It is now widely accepted that excessive exposure of the human skin to strong sunlight can lead to a form of cancer known as melanoma.
Less commonly known is the fact that melanoma can form within the eye, and it was these ophthalmic tumours – their diagnosis, treatment and prognosis – that were the subject of a recent talk given to the Bakewell and District Probus Club.
Introduced by club member and retired general practitioner Ken Fleming, the speaker was Ian Rennie of Sheffield Medical School, who described the important advances made in this particular field of medicine over the past 30 years, many of which were developed by his team in the Sheffield Ocular Oncology Service. The success of this department led to its being included in the NHS National Commissioning Group of highly specialised services in 1997, which increased its funding significantly, and is now recognised for the excellence of its work.
At the time that this specialised unit was established in 1985, there was little effective treatment available for dealing with ophthalmic tumours, and in most cases the diseased eye would have to be removed. There was also a high incidence of misdiagnosis, which meant that a patient’s eye would have been removed unnecessarily.
However, thanks to the work carried out by Ian’s team, there is now a much better chance that the patient’s eye can be saved and in most cases, restored to full vision.