Many of you may have heard about freckles on the skin, but not about eye freckle. It appears as spots or moles which are mostly located inside the eyeball. Sometimes, it may grow on the surface of the eye as well. They are found particularly in those areas where the covering skin has become so thin that it is almost transparent. Typically, it is gray in color, but in some people, it could be of other colors, like brown or yellow too.
The medical term for eye freckles is choroidal nevi. The retina is situated on a membrane called choroid. This membrane consists of colors or pigment cells which are responsible for giving our eyes its natural color. When these pigment cells clustered up together, the freckle or choroidal nevus is formed. In general, it does not cause of any major threat to the eyes. However, if any change is observed in the shape, size or color, of the lesion, then it has to be monitored closely to check out for signs of serious complications like a cancerous tumor.
Causes and Symptoms
Some people are born with eye freckles. In others, it develops in early childhood or even in the adult stage. The exact cause behind the development of freckle is still unknown. It is not a symptom of any kind of underlying problem. Research studies have revealed some probable factors that can lead to formation of freckles. Like skin freckles, it can also result from excessive exposure to the sunlight. For this reason, whenever you step out into the sun, you should wear sunglasses to ensure adequate protection to the eyes.
Usually, freckles do not give any symptoms. In fact, most of the time people are not even aware that they have this condition. In some rare cases, discharge of some fluids may occur due to abnormal growth of the blood vessels inside the eyes. As a result, it can lead to retinal degeneration or detached retina in a localized manner. If these freckles grow into tumors, then symptoms like loss of vision, distorted vision or flashing lights, can be observed.
Diagnosis and Treatment
Eye freckles are not visible with the naked eye. It can be detected only through special instruments used by eye care professionals during eye examination. Though, eye cancer is a rare occurrence, it cannot be ruled out completely. For this reason, the shape, size and other characteristics of the freckle are examined with a test known as fluorescein angiogram. In this procedure, a dye is first injected into the arms of the patient and then photographs of the back of the eyes are taken to see the condition of the underlying blood vessels. This test can detect if there is any leakage of fluids and also determine the thickness of the freckles.
If there is no sign of malignancy, then the freckles are absolutely harmless and do not require any treatment at all. Patients just have to go for eye check up regularly so that the condition of the freckles can be monitored from time to time. At present, radiation therapy and laser eye surgery are the two possible treatment options for malignant freckles in the eye. Unfortunately, none of these surgical procedures are safe. Since the tumor is malignant in nature, there is a possibility that the cancerous cells may spread to other parts of the eyes during the surgery. These treatments may not be able to save the vision of the patient but can prevent the loss of an eye.
If you get a freckle in your eye, there is no need to panick unnecessarily. It does not mean that it will turn out to be a tumor in future. Rather, visit your ophthalmologist after every 3 to 6 months. Strictly follow the advise given out by them regarding eye care. In case, you change your eye doctor, do not forget to inform him or her that you have eye freckle.