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What are the risk factors?

The cause of ocular melanoma is not known in most cases. However, there are several risk factors including:

  • having pale or fair skin. People whose skin burns easily are most at risk.
  • having a light eye colour. People with blue or green eyes have a greater risk than people with darker eyes.
  • family history of melanoma. A very small number of people who have melanoma have inherited a faulty gene.
  • having a growth on or in the eye. People with an “eye freckle” may be at risk.
  • age. The risk increases with age.
  • certain skin conditions and pigmentation. Some people have a skin disorder (dysplastic naevus syndrome) which causes moles to grow abnormally, and this can increase your risk.

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This information is reviewed by

This information was last reviewed February 2021 by the following expert content reviewers: A/Prof William Glasson, Ophthalmologist, Queensland Ocular Oncology Service, Queensland; Dr Lindsay McGrath, Ophthalmic Surgeon, Queensland Ocular Oncology Service, Queensland; Caitriona Nienaber, 13 11 20 Consultant, Cancer Council WA; Jane Palmer, Senior Oncology Nurse and Researcher, Oncogenomics Laboratory, QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute, Queensland Ocular Oncology Service, Queensland; Katrina Potter, Consumer; Susan Vine, OcuMel Australia; Ann Marie Weber, Consumer; Dr Wenchang Wong, Senior Radiation Oncologist, Prince of Wales Hospital, Sydney, Conjoint Senior Lecturer, University of NSW.