Melanoma Education Foundation
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January 26, 2018 | Stephen Fine, Founder and President

Eye Freckles: A New Melanoma Risk Factor in Younger Individuals

Due to Australia’s very high prevalence of skin cancer, that country’s medical scientists are well-motivated to search for new information and improved treatments on and for the disease. One example of this are reports out of Queensland revealing “that freckles and moles appearing on the iris indicate a high risk of melanoma, particularly in people under 40 years of age.” *

Also, that “…the presence of three or more iris pigmented lesions was associated with a 45 percent increased risk of melanoma.”

The Eyes Have it

Eye freckles are melanoma indicators that go beyond the others, such as skin/eye/hair color. Fortunately, unlike the less visible areas on our bodies, almost all of us look right at our own eyes every day. If you don’t already, going forward it would be wise to take a moment each month to study your iris while shaving, brushing your teeth, etc. Even better, just incorporate it into your brief, monthly skin self-exams.

This photo is an example of what you should be looking for when you do:

A See of Difference

To avoid any confusion, it’s important to remember that eye freckles are not the same thing as Ocular Melanoma. The former is a risk factor for the melanoma most commonly found on the skin. The latter is an actual cancer within the eye, and one of the few melanomas that are not believed to be caused by UV (ultraviolet) ray exposure.

Travelling at the Speed of Sight

Once melanoma works itself beyond the skin, it can travel anywhere within the body via the bloodstream and/or lymphstream. When that occurs, it will inevitably attack another organ(s) and/or lymph node(s). That will then drastically reduce a patient’s chance for survival.

However, melanoma has one large flaw and it’s our greatest ally in the battle against it- it announces its arrival while there’s still time to vanquish it. All we have to do (in the majority of cases) is watch out for any new abnormal moles and skin growths- or changes to old ones -and then quickly have any that are found examined by a dermatologist.

Most people walking along a train track would step off it if they saw a train coming at them. Spotting but then ignoring a melanoma is like seeing that train, and then watching it as it runs right through, and destroys, your body. Make no mistake, in time melanoma will do to the inside of a body what a train would do to its outside.

A Look into the Future

Remember, the eyes may be the windows to the soul, but they are also windows into early melanoma detection. And if caught early enough, melanoma has a cure rate of nearly 100%.

* Additional information sources: The British Journal of Dermatology, The British Journal of Dermatology (2)