Sun Exposure and Eye Freckles

What color are your eyes? This sounds like an easy question, but it’s not that simple. Look in the mirror very closely. If your irises (the colored part of the eye around the pupil) are brown, you probably see many shades of brown from golden to umber. You may also see darker flecks in your iris. These are known as eye freckles, and they are most often found on people with a higher lifetime exposure to sunlight.

In a study published in Investigative Ophthalmology and Visual Science, more than 600 swimmers in Styria, Austria had their eyes examined and completed surveys regarding their sun exposure and sun-protection regimens. The results showed that people with darker irises and those who protected their skin by covering up or using sunscreen were less likely to have eye freckles (Source: Science Daily).

Interestingly, freckles were not evenly positioned in the eyes. They were most commonly found in the lower outer quadrant, furthest away from the nose. This could be because the eyebrows and nose shield the upper and inner quadrants of the eye from the sun, thereby lowering sun exposure and the risk for eye freckles. The researchers found that other contributing factors for eye freckles included increased age, high number of lifetime sunburns, and history of blistering sunburns.

Freckles of the iris are not malignant, so if you see them in your eyes, you should not be alarmed. Instead, you can take time to inform yourself about two eye conditions that correlate with eye freckles:

These degenerative eye conditions are directly associated with sun exposure and free radical damage from ultraviolet radiation.

Protecting your eyes and the delicate skin around your eyes is simple. Whenever you go outside, wear sunglasses that offer 100 percent UVA and UVB protection. A wide-brimmed hat can offer additional protection, as well as sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30.

If you are concerned about eye freckles or if you notice changes in your vision, make an appointment with your ophthalmologist or contact one of our qualified eye care professionals by clicking here.

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