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An eye freckle is simply an area of the eye that is pigmented. The official name for an ‘eye freckle’ is a naevus. This is the name given to a spot, mole or freckle that appears inside the eye or on the surface of the eye.
These eye freckles can be detected during a routine eye examination and can affect almost any part of the eye. They are usually flat and most commonly found in the choroid, a layer between the retina and sclera at the back of the eye that is dense with blood vessels. Although they are not necessarily a ‘normal’ finding in the eye they don’t usually represent anything wrong with the eye.
Eye freckles vary between patients and most do not cause any symptoms. However, if they grow and cause disruption to the surrounding tissue they can become problematic and give rise to symptoms.
Many of us have variations in the pigmentation of our retina but true choroidal naevi are fairly uncommon. If you do have choroidal naevi it is likely that your doctor/optician who discovered them will suggest that they review you biannually for the first year or two to monitor for any possible changes.
Choroidal naevi do not usually pose any harm. However, similar to a freckle on your skin, if it changes in colour, shape or size it should be checked out. As you can imagine it is difficult to observe an eye freckle in your own eye so you will need to visit the optician for this.
The optician will typically take digital photographs of your eye freckle to make it easy to compare to previous visits. Occasionally you may be referred to a retinal specialist for a second opinion and for specialist diagnostic tests.
Often choroidal nevi are benign, which means they are not sinister; rarely they can develop into a choroidal melanoma which would be more serious and hence the need for monitoring.
Eye freckles can also affect the iris which is the bit of the eye that controls light entry and gives the eyes their colour. Sometimes these are obvious to the naked eye and like choroidal naevi are normally benign.
Eye freckles should not affect your chances of having vision corrective surgery. The chances of you being suitable for laser eye surgery and lens surgery will not reduce if you have an eye freckle.
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Laser eye surgery risks for serious complications are very rare, however, it’s important to stay informed before your treatment