Medical experts warning of increase in rare eye cancer

(WTVM) - A group of patients with a rare type of eye cancer had researchers headed to Alabama.

Ocular melanoma, which normally occurs in about six in every one million people, has been identified in more than 50 individuals around two locations. At least 38 of the people attended Auburn University between 1983 and 2001, according to a Facebook page for the group of patients.

Doctors say early detection is always the safest route.

"What you really need is a comprehension eye exam. An optometrist or ophthalmologist can do that.  The important factor is a dilation. It is almost impossible to find a uveal melanoma without dilating the eyes," says Nick Mayfield, eye physician.

The uvea is part of the eye containing two areas in which ocular melanoma can commonly occur. Therefore, the cancer is also referred to as uveal melanoma.

At least four people have died from the disease.

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