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It can be difficult for practitioners to determine the likelihood of malignancy in melanocytic choroidal tumours. This author has therefore devised the MOLES acronym to highlight the most informative clinical features, which comprise mushroom shape, orange pigment, large size, enlargement, and subretinal fluid. Each of these is scored 0 if absent, 1 if subtle or uncertain, and 2 if present. Tumours are categorised as 'common naevus', 'low-risk naevus', 'high-risk naevus' and 'probable melanoma' according to whether the sum of these five scores is 0, 1, 2 or 3 or more, respectively. Tentative recommendations, subject to future studies, include: review of 'common naevi' by a community optometrist whenever the patient attends for another reason, such as a two-yearly 'check-up' (i.e., 'self-care'); non-urgent referral of patients with 'low-risk naevi' or 'high-risk naevi' to an ophthalmologist to plan long-term surveillance (i.e., determining the frequency of assessments and whether these should be undertaken by an ophthalmologist or a community optometrist); and urgent referral of patients with a MOLES score >2 (i.e., 'probable melanoma') to an ophthalmologist for immediate referral to an ocular oncologist if a suspicion of malignancy is confirmed. The MOLES system does not require assessment of internal acoustic reflectivity by ultrasonography. MOLES scores correlate well with diagnosis of choroidal naevi and melanomas by ocular oncologists; however, further evaluation of this aid in routine optometric practice and other situations is needed. MOLES should prevent unnecessary referral of patients with naevi for second opinion and non-essential monitoring of these patients at hospital eye services.

Original publication




Journal article


Eye (Lond)

Publication Date