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.