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#EyeGetDilated: Steven Johnson

Guest blog by Steven Johnson, OM survivor: 

Steves picture for Melanoma Research foundationI vividly remember the first time that I noticed some visual disturbances in my right eye. I made an appointment to get it checked out and the doctor ended up referring me to Dr. Matthew Wilson at Hamilton Eye Institute in Memphis. He diagnosed me with a rare type of eye cancer called ocular melanoma (OM), and soon did surgery on that eye. As an artist, the thought of losing my vision and not being able to paint terrified me. Thankfully, the surgery and treatments are working, and the tumor is shrinking. I’ve been relearning to do my artwork again, as well as drive and several other routine activities.

My son’s fiancée Audrey has had to have several melanomas removed. I was like most people and know people with melanomas on their skin, but I had never heard of an ocular melanoma before having the diagnosis.

Ocular melanoma affects about five in one million, so roughly 2500 people in the US are diagnosed with it every year. Many people don’t have any visual symptoms related to OM, and this makes it even more deadly. This is why having annual dilated eye exams is so important. If you’ve never had your eyes dilated before, it’s not difficult at all. Afterwards, there is a slight stinging and sensitivity to sunlight. There’s nothing more to it except the need to be extra cautious for the next few hours. You wouldn’t think about it, but something so easy could mean the difference in life or death.

Behind every OM warrior are the family, friends and loved ones who support them. CURE OM is dedicated to offering whatever support is needed to all those who share in the fight against OM. In this season of giving thanks and giving back, please consider a tax-deductible gift to show your support: