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Fredericksburg Free-Lance Star Profiles Dr. T. Mark Johnson’s Diagnosis of Rare Melanoma, Referral for Immediate Treatment Which Saved Patient’s Life and Preserved His Vision

A recent front page story in the Fredericksburg Free-Lance Star (Va.) profiled Dr. T. Mark Johnson’s vision-saving diagnosis of a patient’s rare melanoma. Dr. Johnson identified a small tumor on the ciliary body, an area behind the iris that controls the shape of the lens and produces the clear fluid in the front of the eyeball. He referred the Stafford County man for a specialized form of plaque radiotherapy, which because it was administered in timely fashion, prevented the cancer from metastasizing elsewhere in the body.

According to the article, melanoma in the eye is rare; there are only six to seven cases per million people per year in the United States. Ciliary body melanoma is even more so, since it occurs in only 10% of ocular melanoma patients. While the plaque radiotherapy treatment is 98 percent effective in controlling the eye tumor, the lesson to be learned from this experience is that people need to have regular eye exams. As Dr. Johnson explains, “blood vessels in the retina are the smallest in the human body that you can look at directly, so they tell you a lot about other vascular vessels in the heart, brain and kidney.”

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