Association between choroidal pigmentation and posterior uveal melanoma in a white population

J. W. Harbour, M. A. Brantley, H. Hollingsworth, M. Gordon

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46 Scopus citations


Background/aims: It is well known that light skin pigmentation is a risk factor for cutaneous melanoma. The aim of this study was to investigate the analogous association between choroidal pigmentation and posterior uveal melanoma. Methods: Cross sectional study of 65 consecutive patients diagnosed with posterior uveal melanoma (melanoma group) and 218 consecutive patients referred for general retinal evaluation (control group). All patients were white. A clinical grading system for estimating choroidal pigmentation was developed and histologically validated in seven patients. Results: Melanoma patients with light iris colour were significantly more likely to have darker choroidal pigmentation than controls (p = 0.005). Darker choroidal pigmentation was associated histologically with increased density of choroidal melanocytes (p = 0.005). Conclusions: Increased choroidal pigmentation, as a result of an increase in the density of pigmented choroidal melanocytes, is not protective but may actually be a risk factor for the development of posterior uveal melanoma in white patients. This finding may have implications for understanding the pathogenesis of uveal melanoma.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)39-43
Number of pages5
JournalBritish Journal of Ophthalmology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2004


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