Did you know that freckles can appear on your eyes? Whether you’ve had them since childhood or just found out you have them during a routine eye care exam, it’s usually nothing to worry about. However, your doctor may recommend monitoring your eye freckles over time along with proper eye care, since in rare cases they can turn into melanoma, which is a type of cancer.
Eye Freckles and Their Causes
Eye freckles can be caused by genetic traits or sun exposure. You can be born with eye freckles or develop them later in life. There are actually several kinds of eye freckles, and proper examination by a professional eye doctor ensures proper diagnosis and treatment planning. Just like having freckles on the skin, eye freckles are caused by the clumping of melanocytes, which are the cells containing pigment.
Types of Eye Freckles
In most cases, an eye freckle, or nevus, is easy to spot. However, some of these nevi (the plural of nevus) are hidden in the back of your eye, where only an experienced eye doctor will be able to spot them. They are categorized based on their location as follow:
- Conjunctival Nevus – Usually appearing during childhood, this is a pigmented lesion on the white part of the eye, known as the conjunctiva. These nevi account for more than half of all conjunctival lesions.
- Iris Nevus – When the eye freckle is on the iris, it’s called an iris nevus. Some research has associated increased sun exposure to formation of new iris nevi, but more studies still need to be done. They’re always flat and don’t pose any risk. Approximately six in 10 people have this type of eye freckle.
- Choroidal Nevus – When a doctor tells you that you have an eye lesion that needs to be followed, this refers to a choroidal nevus. This flat pigmented lesion is typically benign and found in the back of the eye.
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