What Are Eye Freckles?

What Are Eye Freckles?

Having a nevus (eye freckle) is common and usually harmless, but it could be a cause for concern in some cases.

What Are Eye Freckles?
A nevus is a common colored growth on or in your eye. Sometimes called a freckle of the eye, it is similar to a mole on your skin. A nevus (plural: nevi) is formed by the clumping together of cells called melanocytes, which produce melanin. That’s the pigment that colors our hair, skin and eyes. A nevus can be brown, yellow or gray.

People can be born with harmless eye nevi. A pigmented spot that develops later in life is usually harmless as well, but may have a greater risk of becoming a type of cancer called melanoma.

Types of Eye Freckles
Different types of nevi have different names depending on where they are found on or in the eye.

  • Conjunctival nevus – On the surface of your eye
  • Iris nevus – In the colored part of your eye
  • Choroidal nevus – Inside the eye under the retina (back of the eye) in a layer of tissue called the choroid; a choroidal nevus can only be seen during an eye exam

What Causes Eye Freckles?
Like skin freckles, damage from the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) light may cause eye nevi. It’s important to protect your eyes from UV light by wearing sunglasses. An eye nevus should be watched regularly by an eye care professional because, like a skin mole, it could possibly develop into cancer.

Diagnosing an Eye Freckle
Some eye freckles can be seen with the naked eye, and others can be found during a routine eye exam. Sometimes your eye care provider will use imaging technology like optical coherence tomography (OCT) to get a closer look at a nevus, such as a choroidal nevus. The doctor may take a picture of the nevus to compare it over time to check for changes in size or shape. You may need to get the nevus rechecked in six months.

When to Be Concerned
While most nevi are harmless, your eye care provider will want to monitor the freckle over time.
Nevi can become melanoma as you age, so you should have an eye freckle checked by an eye care professional regularly. Make sure to follow the exam schedule recommended by your eye care provider.

You should see your eye care provider when:

  • Your eye freckle has grown or changed its shape or color
  • You have eye pain
  • You see flashing lights
  • You have other changes in your vision

While most eye freckles don’t need treatment, in some cases your doctor might be concerned about melanoma. Your eye care professional can check any eye freckles you might have for changes over time. It is important to schedule regular comprehensive eye exams in order to maintain the health of your eyes. The team at Sterling Vision is dedicated to providing the highest level care for all types of eye conditions. To schedule an appointment with us, call 541-262-0597 or schedule online.