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Are Eye Freckles a Reason to Worry?
Freckles can appear anywhere on your body, including your eyes. Although eye freckles are often harmless, they can be a sign of cancer in some cases.
How Do Eye Freckles Form?
A freckle develops when melanocytes clump together in your eye. Melanocytes are cells that give your hair, eyes, and skin their color. Freckles are particularly common in the iris, the colored part of your eye. In fact, about half of all people have flecks of color in their irises, according to WebMD.
You may also have a slightly bigger type of freckle called a nevus (or nevi if you have more than one). Freckles on your skin are usually brown, but nevi can be brown, yellow, or gray. They may also be made up of multiple colors. Nevi can be present at birth or develop later in life.
What Parts of the Eye Do Nevi Have an Effect On?
Nevi can appear in these parts of your eye:
How Are Eye Freckles Treated?
In most cases, there's no need to treat an eye freckle. Your optometrist will monitor your freckle to make sure that it has not gotten any bigger. If that happens, your eye doctor may recommend a few tests that will determine if the nevus has become cancerous. Tests may also be needed if a choroidal nevus turns orange, becomes raised, or begins to leak fluid, as these symptoms could be signs of melanoma, according to the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO). Surgery can be used to remove nevi, although eye doctors like to avoid removal if possible, as a surgical procedure could damage your eyesight. Laser therapy and radiation can be helpful in treating cancerous freckles.
Be sure to let your optometrist know if you notice a change in a freckle, you are having trouble with your vision, or you are seeing flashing lights. Don't wait for your annual eye examination to report these changes. Call the eye doctor's office right away.
How Can I Prevent Eye Freckles?
Although most eye freckles can't be prevented, there's a possibility that ultraviolet light could play a role in the development of choroidal nevi, according to the AAO.
Wearing sunglasses year-round is a simple way to reduce your risk. Look for sunglasses that block both ultraviolet A and B rays. Wrap-around styles offer the best protection from the effects of the sun.
Are you concerned about an eye freckle? Give our office a call and we'll arrange a convenient appointment for you.