American Journal of Ophthalmology Case Reports (Sep 2020)

Oral isotretinoin and topical retinoid use in a series of young patients with ocular melanoma

  • Kavita K. Mishra,
  • Jessica E. Scholey,
  • Inder K. Daftari,
  • Armin Afshar,
  • Tony Tsai,
  • Susanna Park,
  • Jeanne M. Quivey,
  • Devron H. Char

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 19
p. 100787


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Purpose: To describe the first series of six young uveal melanoma (UM) patients with oral isotretinoin and/or topical retinoid therapy prior to diagnosis. Observations: The case series is based on clinical observations at our UM quaternary referral center. Six UM patient cases are reported, ages 16–44 years old. All had been using either oral (isotretinoin) and/or topical (tretinoin or tazarotene) retinoid treatment (3 months–~10 years) prior to or at the time of diagnosis (3 of 6 cases). All patients had ocular complaints on presentation, and the onset of certain symptoms corresponded with the course of retinoids. Other potential risk factors or relevant history included Caucasian background, cone-rod dystrophy and active smoker status (Case 2), family history of UM and pregnancy at time of diagnosis (Case 3), past smoking and possible secondary Chernobyl exposure as a baby (Case 5). All patients were treated with proton beam radiotherapy and currently have no sign of recurrent or metastatic disease. Conclusions and importance: Retinoid therapy has been linked to various benign and/or reversible effects on the anterior and posterior eye, though pathophysiology remains not well understood. Uveal melanoma (UM) is a rare cancer diagnosis in young adults. We report here the first case series of young UM patients with a history of retinoid use and ocular complaints. No causal link is claimed and further systematic epidemiologic and biologic study of retinoid therapy and ocular impact may provide additional relevant data, particularly in young ocular melanoma patients.