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I've been told I have a freckle INSIDE my eye. What is that?

A freckle in the eye, called a choroidal nevus, is a benign accumulation of pigmented cells in the back of the eye. It's analogous to a freckle on your skin but can only be seen by your eye doctor with a dilated eye examination or with a retinal imaging camera. A choroidal nevus is usually not present at birth and most often arises after puberty and may grow slowly over several years, often stabilizing with age.

Are there any symptoms?

There are usually no symptoms associated with a nevus.

Is a nevus cancerous?

Just like with a freckle on your skin, there is a concern for a nevus turning into malignant melanoma. The risk of nevus transformation does increase with age however the risk remains less than 1%.

Is there any treatment?

There is no treatment. If a nevus is noticed for the first time, you will be re-evaluated in 6 months, then annually thereafter. A photo needs to be taken at the initial visit and at routine examinations to monitor for stability. If there is a concern for malignant melanoma, you will be referred to and evaluated by an ocular oncologist.

What do I need to do?

It is important to follow-up with your eye doctor regularly. Eye doctors are trained to identify certain nevus characteristics that increase the risk of melanoma and will shorten follow-up visits or appropriate a referral if indicated. If it's been a while, schedule an eye exam today!

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