Nevus of the Eye, Eye Moles and Freckles
Did you know that you can get freckles and moles on your eye? They are called are nevi (singular form is nevus) and are actually quite common. This article will answer some of the questions that you may have regarding nevi.
What is a Nevus?
A nevus is a growth that develops on the eye. It is typically pigmented and is much like a freckle or a mole. In fact a common nickname for a nevus is “freckle in the eye”. A nevus can occur in many different places on the eye. Sometimes they are found on the front of the eye near the iris and other times they are in the back of the eye near the retina. A nevus can be congenital which means that it is present at birth or it can develop during early childhood.
A nevus is a benign growth, which means that it is not cancerous. Most nevi will stay benign, but rarely, just like a mole on your body, they can change and become cancerous. For this reason it is recommended to have a doctor monitor them on a regular basis.
Do Nevi Need Treatment?
Most of the time a nevus will not require treatment. They are not harmful and will typically remain benign. Patients with a particularly large nevus may have it photographed for easier observation and monitoring. If a nevus appears to be changing or growing it may be removed and possibly treated with radiation.
Doctors can easily monitor a nevus for changes. Most nevi will never need treatment. If a nevus is particularly large a doctor may recommend eye care appointments at least once a year for monitoring. If a nevus is orange in color or appears to be getting thicker it may need more frequent observation. In some cases a nevus may leak fluid. If this occurs it can be an indication of melanoma and the nevus should be removed as soon as possible.
What are the Risk Factors for a Nevus?
A nevus can turn into melanoma. This happens very rarely, but it is something to look out for. Melanoma of the skin and in the eye is linked to UV ray exposure. People with blue eyes develop melanoma of the eye more often than those with darker eyes. An increased risk is also seen in people that work primarily outdoors. While a nevus develops in childhood or before birth and cannot be prevented, those with an increased risk for melanoma should monitor the nevus more closely to ensure that it is not developing cancerous cells.
How Can I Prevent Melanoma in the Eye?
Since melanoma is linked to UV exposure, the best way to lessen your risk for melanoma is to limit your UV exposure. This means staying inside during peak UV times if possible and wearing UV blocking sunglasses at all times. Getting regular eye exams will also help you to protect your eyes and to find any problems before they develop into a serious condition.
A nevus of the eye is essentially a freckle or a mole found on the eye. They are fairly common and are not serious. The only associated risk with a nevus is that it may develop into melanoma, but this is very rare. Doctors can monitor this condition and remove the nevus if changes occur.
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