[Skip to Content]
[Skip to Content Landing]
December 1956

Ocular and Dermal Melanocytosis

Author Affiliations

Portland, Ore.; Tokyo
Department of Dermatology and Department of Ophthalmology, University of Oregon Medical School, Portland, and Department of Dermatology, University of Tokyo Medical School.

AMA Arch Ophthalmol. 1956;56(6):830-832. doi:10.1001/archopht.1956.00930040838004

Pigmented lesions involving ocular structures are always a source of concern until proved benign. We wish to call attention to a striking pigment change, involving the eye and eyelids, which is benign but which simulates malignant disease.

Because there exists a confusion of names describing pigmentary abnormalities of the eye and surrounding structures, a new terminology is suggested. These new terms describe the presence of ectopic melanin-forming cells (melanocytes) in unusual sites and number in the skin and eye. The following Tabulation summarizes these proposed changes:

Normal pigmentation of human skin is related to the presence of melanin in highly branched cells located at the epidermal-dermal junction. The melanin-forming cells are called melanocytes, and their dendritic processes are intricately branched. The processes weave between the Malpighian cells and give the mistaken impression that Malpighian cells form melanin.

In the eye, melanin is normally found in the uveal tract and in