As part of your periodic eye examination, your optometrist or ophthalmologist is evaluating more than your visual acuity. Through a series of tests, he or she is also interested in the health of your eye, including the structures of the eye that can only be viewed through retinal diagnostic imaging. Find out what this test reveals and what a spot within your eye means.
Laser Retinal Scan
Scanning laser ophthalmoscopy is a noninvasive photographic method for viewing the inner structures at the back of your eyes, including the optic nerve, the retina and blood vessels in detail. This screening test is instrumental in detecting the following ocular diseases:
- Age-related macular degeneration
- Diabetic retinopathy
- Retinal detachment
- Ocular hypertension
- Ocular melanoma
The image can also reveal a tiny spot within your eye that your optometrist or ophthalmologist may have described as a freckle. You heard correctly. Freckles do not just occur on your skin.
A choroidal nevus is a raised spot of pigmentation that is caused by an accumulation of melanocyte cells and appears under the retina at the back of the eye. If the choroidal nevus appears as a tiny gray spot, it is often referred to as a freckle in the eye. You will probably sigh with relief to know that, like most skin freckles, a tiny choroidal nevus is likely benign and not a cause for immediate concern. That relief may seem brief when your optometrist or ophthalmologist then tells you that he or she will want to monitor the spot closely during all subsequent routine eye examinations. These periodic inspections and comparisons are important because in some instances, a choroidal nevus can pose serious problems.
Potential Problems of Choroidal Nevi
Choroidal nevi rarely cause symptoms. They can leak subretinal fluid into the eye. They can also prompt the development of abnormal blood vessels, which can in turn result in retinal detachment. These occurrences are uncommon. A choroidal nevus can also progress to a malignant choroidal melanoma. From the very first siting of a choroidal nevus in your eye, the doctor will evaluate its presentation at every examination for the following characteristics:
- Orange color, or changes in its color from one examination to the next
- Larger in size than a tiny spot, or changes in its size from one examination to the next
- A thickness of 2 millimeters or greater
- Presence of subretinal fluid leakage
If your choroidal nevus exhibits any of these characteristics at any examination, then the freckle is considered to be suspicious and warrants further evaluation. Additional tests may be ordered at that point, including optical coherence topography and fluorescein angiography.
Try Not to Worry
If your choroidal nevus is nothing more than a miniscule gray freckle and your doctor advises you not to worry, heed his or her advice. There is no treatment for choroidal nevi, and they cannot be easily or safely removed surgically. It can be nerve-wracking to believe that you may be harboring a ticking time bomb in your eye, but keep in mind that choroidal nevi rarely transform into melanomas. Focus on that positive fact, maintain your schedule of eye examinations as recommended by your optometrist or ophthalmologist so that any concerning changes are detected early, and wear sunglasses that offer 100 percent UVA, UVB and UVC protection. Choroidal nevus is a common finding in the adult population, and the vast majority of these individuals never experience any ill effects from them.
Contact a clinic like Bethany Vision Clinic for more information.