Although eye freckles are a rare sight, they are a curiosity-inducing phenomenon. It is quite common to spot freckles and moles on the skin, but freckles in the eyes are, indeed, a surprising sight. Are eye freckles present for a reason? Are they harmful? Do they create changes in vision? Though eye freckle is a rare sight, it creates a huge curiosity among people for their presence. It’s very common to spot freckles or moles on your skin, but freckles in the eye is surprisingly a questionable thing to visualise. Is it present for a reason? Is it harmful? Does it create a change in vision? There are numerous questions that pop out in our mind while looking at those tiny coloured freckles in the eyes. Let’s answer some of them for a better understanding of their existence.
What are eye freckles?
Eye freckles, also known as ‘nevus,’ literally translate into moles. Freckles in the eyes are very similar to the moles on our bodies. They appear like a post, freckle or mole at different places in the eyes. It’s not very uncommon to spot freckles in your eyes. Thus, eye freckles are just pigmented spots, usually in flat shape, found in the eyes. They are harmless and there is nothing wrong with your eyes if you develop a freckle in the eye.
However, you should keep a check on the growth of eye freckles because they have the potential to develop into melanoma (skin cancer). If you experience any changes in your eye or witness the sudden development of eye freckles, reach out to an optometrist immediately. They will conduct a comprehensive eye test and will be able to tell you about your eyes. However, it is essential to remember that most of the freckles in eyes are simply normal, there’s nothing to worry about.
Types of Eye Freckles
Conjunctival Nevus - On the surface of the eye
Conjunctival nevus are freckles present on the conjunctiva. Conjunctiva is the clear, thin membrane in the front of the eyes that covers the entire eyeball. Conjunctival nevus or eye nevus is quite a common type of eye freckle. They are called freckles around the eyes. Their colour ranges from yellow to brown, though it can lighten or darken over time. Conjunctival nevus doesn’t prove to be usually cancerous but merely a spot. But, you’ve got to keep them checked over time. You must consult your ophthalmologist if there’s any significant change in the size of the freckle. It’s because the growth of the freckles into a larger spot might be a sign of developing skin cancer.
Iris Freckles - Present on the Coloured part of the eye
Iris freckles, as the name suggests, its located on the coloured part of the eye itself. You’ll find spots or freckles on the iris but in tiny sizes. They are mostly present in dark brown colour. It’s caused by increased melanin pigment at one spot. Fortunately, they are harmless and don’t usually transform into melanoma.
Iris Nevus - Present of Iris in a bigger size
Iris Nevus is also like iris freckles, but it appears as a dark brown spot on the coloured Iris. However, the main difference is that the size of the Iris nevus is bigger than Iris freckles. Thus, it is also known as the large eye freckle. Iris Nevus may develop down into the stroma region of the Iris and usually grow over time. Though dissimilar in size, Iris nevus is also not cancerous and merely a spot. But, as we have already mentioned, you must keep in contact with your ophthalmologist every now and then to check the change. Both of these conditions, Iris Freckles and Iris Nevus are visible to the eyes but distinguishing could only be done by an ophthalmologist.
Choroidal Nevus - Under the Retina/Back of the eye
Eye freckle in the eyes is called a choroidal nevus. It’s also known as eye freckle under the eyes or eye freckle on the retina. It is found under the retinal layer of tissue called choroid, and hence the name. Choroidal nevus are very hard to distinguish and can only be recognised during an eye test. These freckles under the eye come in colours like grey, yellow, brown and many other colours. The condition is very uncommon to develop and affects only 1 percent of the global population. Choroidal freckles can be harmless, but if the size of the eye freckle enlarges and takes an orange hue, it becomes important to check with your ophthalmologist.
What Can Eye Freckles Tell about Your Health?
Eye freckles are usually benign, but they may serve as a warning sign for sun-related health problems. For instance, the presence of iris freckles may indicate sun damage to the skin, something that can culminate in skin cancer. However, further research is important in the area.
Another research study published in the journal - Dermatologic Therapy - found that participants with precancerous skin alterations are more likely to have eye freckles than the participants who did not have precancerous skin changes. However, the medical community is yet to get conclusive evidence.
Last but not least, eye freckles may also help inform healthcare providers about the role that sunlight plays in conditions like cataracts and macular degeneration. However, it is noteworthy to mention that the concept of eye freckles requires robust and thorough investigation.
There’s also a chance that you develop eye freckles by overexposure from sun’s UV rays. Hence sunglasses are must while looking or working in the sun.
Do Eye Freckles Go Away with Time?
Eye freckles usually manifest as a tiny visible spot on the white part of the eye. But, they usually remain stable, and may change colour with time, especially during puberty or pregnancy. However, at times, the darkening of the eye freckle may be mistaken for growth. So, timely monitoring of eye freckles is important!
How to diagnose freckles in the eyes?
Eye freckles are not associated with any preemptive symptoms. Thus, you can only detect it through routine eye tests. Ophthalmologists all over the world use imaging technology like OCT to inspect the eyes more closely in the cases of choroidal Nevus. Photography can help you see eye freckles in the most precise way. Even ophthalmologists take pictures of your eye freckle and compare it over time to inspect the change in the size or shape.
The key is to visit your optician every six months to help you get the possible warning. If there's no change in the eye freckle in a year or two, then the risk of developing melanoma is comparatively low. However, it can become cancerous as you age hence the timely checkups should never stop.
What’s eye freckle treatment?
An eye freckle, if it's harmless, doesn’t require any treatment. It’s simply a spot on your eyes that doesn’t impact your vision or create any health problems. Hence treatment isn’t your worry. If there’s a chance to develop melanoma and something along the lines is suggested by an ophthalmologist, then treatment becomes necessary. The treatment of eye freckles is a very rare case and critical procedure where the emerging freckles can be removed from the outer wall of the eyes by surgery. It’s a very rare process and has the risk of damaging your eyes. So, it is conducted by professionals. Other treatments for the freckles involve radiation, surgery, laser therapy, or removal of the eye.
Other treatments for the freckles involve radiation, surgery, laser therapy, or removal of the eye.
FAQ about Eye Freckles
How worried should I be about an eye freckle?
Ans. Usually, eye freckles are harmless, it's just a simple freckle in your eyes. However, if there’s a recognisable growth in the shape and size of the freckle then you must consult your optician.
Can an eye freckle be removed?
Ans. It's a highly critical procedure that involves removing the freckle in the eye hence ophthalmologists decline to suggest it to its patient. It can involve permanent eye damage. Hence you must not remove it if it's harmless.
Can an eye freckle cause eye pain?
Ans. No! Eye freckles don't cause any eye pain.
Are eye freckles normal?
Ans. It’s quite common to develop conjunctival eye freckles however other forms are very rare. For instance, Iris Nevus is the most common type of iris freckle, and shows up on almost 60 percent of the people.
What is the chance of an eye freckle turning cancerous?
Ans. There's a 50/50 chance to develop eye freckles that turn cancerous. There’s no warning or symptom, it occurs suddenly. Hence you must go for a routine eye checkup to ensure to keep a check on the state of the eye.