The white part of the eye, called the sclera, is a protective layer surrounding the cornea. A brown spot on the sclera can look scary, but here we will discuss its causes and how to get rid of it.
Normally, the color of sclera is white with a bit of a bluish hue. In some people with dark skin, the sclera can have a slightly darker color. This is just due to increases in pigmentation and is usually nothing to be concerned about. When individuals see brown spots in the eye or specifically a brown spot on the sclera, they often get very concerned.
What causes brown spots in the eye?
A common reaction when someone notices a brown spot on the white of their eye is to gasp and wonder how it happened. Here we outline the many causes of brown spots on eyes.
- Benign conjunctival nevi: This usually occurs in the first 10 years of life and is rather common. Most visible eye discolorations turn out to be benign, but it is always a good idea to get it checked to be certain.
- Primary acquired melanosis: Simply referred to as PAM, this cause of brown spots in the eye tends to occur in middle-aged or elderly white individuals. PAM is best described as a unilateral flat area of conjunctival pigmentation. People can have PAM for years without any changes or they can experience color changes and even the formation of a malignancy. The transformation from an innocent pigmentation change to a malignant spot is one of the reasons that an ophthalmologist should see pigment changes.
- Medications: There are certain medications, such as epinephrine containing eye drops, that can darken the conjunctiva. Additionally, industrial or photographic use of silver preparations can also cause conjunctival discoloration. There are even situations where endocrine diseases and hormonal changes may result in melanin production that leads to a slow, progressive darkening of the conjunctiva.
- Conjunctival pigment: The cause of conjunctival pigment can vary, but essentially, it means that lesions have formed. It could be due to chronic inflammation, chemical irritation, or even cancer.
- Excessive iris pigment: There are cases where there is too much pigment in the iris. There is one condition known as pigment dispersion syndrome. PDS occurs when the pigment rubs off on the back of the iris. It then floats around to other parts of the eye. The unfortunate part about PDS is that the bits of pigment can clog your eye’s drainage mechanism, leading to eye pressure problems. Pressure can damage the optic nerve and cause glaucoma.
- Axenfeld nerve loops: These are loops of long nerves within the sclera. They appear gray or white under the conjunctiva and are considered perfectly normal; however, there are cases where these loops can turn into cancer.
- Foreign objects: A speck of dust, a wood chip, a shaving of metal, or even an insect can be under the eyelid or on the surface of the sclera. While anyone can get a foreign object in the eye, those who work in the trades, such a laborers, carpenters, fitters, and boilermakers are most at risk of getting a foreign object in the eye. When someone gets an object in the eye, they should not try to remove it on their own. This could do permanent damage to the eye. Instead, medical assistance should be sought.
When it comes to what causes brown spots in the eyes, it is always best not to self-diagnose, but to see a doctor or eye specialist to determine the cause and proper treatment.
Tests for brown spots on sclera
Some people are uncomfortable with the idea of someone poking around in their eye, but the truth is that ophthalmologists are not “poking” and know how to conduct a careful, pain-free examination.
The specialist will take a close look at the spot as well as the blood vessels surrounding the spot with a special procedure. This procedure is called a fluorescein angiogram and it enables the doctor to take pictures of the spot from the back of the eye. The doctor will likely want to monitor the spot over time to see if the shape, size, or color changes in any way.
Treatment of brown spots in eye
Now you might be wondering how to get rid of brown spots in your eyes. Well, once the cause is determined, your doctor can guide you on the best possible treatments. While some treatments are quick and simple, others take more time and consideration.
Here’s a look at how to remove brown spots in the eyes:
- Medicated drops: The easiest form of treatment is medicated eye drops. If a person is at risk of getting glaucoma, these drops can lower eye pressure. This occurs because the drops are designed to remove the amount of aqueous fluid the eyes make. There are also certain types of drops that help fluid flow better through the drainage angle and reduce pressure.
- Laser therapy: Two distinct types of laser therapy: trabeculoplasty and laser iridotomy, are used. Trabeculoplasty is used to make drainage work better in those who are dealing with excessive eye pressure. Laser iridotomy is used with pigment dispersion syndrome. The laser allows the iris to become flatter and decreases the amount of pigment floating around in the eye.
- Other surgeries: Ophthalmologists can implant special tiny drainage tubes in the eye. These are often referred to as glaucoma drainage devices. In the case of spots that are cancerous, the eye doctor may refer the patient to an oncologist for chemotherapy and recommend some type of surgical procedure. There are situations where sclera spots are removed through a procedure called conjuntivectomy. This allows for the removal of the conjunctival layer but it can regenerate without the brown, pigmented area.
- Benign conjunctival nevi treatment: Usually a lesion that is large is removed, sometimes through a surgical procedure. Surgical procedures are carried out to prevent the transformation of the nevi into a malignant melanoma. Sometimes patients ask for the procedures for aesthetic reasons. Manual surgical removal of a nevus does require hospitalization and close monitoring of the eye.
- The other procedure is called argon laser photoablation. Photoablation is when high-energy laser wavelengths in the far ultraviolet region of the spectrum are used to break tissue polymers into small fragments. There are, of course, situations where nevi remain stable.
- Foreign object removal: A doctor will usually numb the eye with anesthetic drops and remove the object. In some situations, the object can be flushed out with saline. Depending on how deep the object penetrated the eye and how much redness and inflammation the object caused, the eye may be covered with a patch to allow it to rest. Follow-up is required so the doctor or ophthalmologist can make certain that all the foreign object has been removed and the eye is healing properly.
How to naturally get rid of brown spots in the eye?
For those who would like to go the natural route, there are ways to get rid of brown spots in the eye with home remedies when the condition is benign. Protection from the sun is important, so using sunglasses is always a good idea. As you will see from reading the list below, there are also dietary solutions and homeopathic approaches.
- Consume freshly crushed garlic flakes: Research shows that garlic consumed along with a glass of water is good for us because it contains substances that can detoxify our bodies. Some people simply eat one clove of garlic each morning.
- Dandelion root: Thought to be a good remedy when heavy metal poisoning is the cause of brown spots on the sclera. Some people drink dandelion root tea, while others consume dandelion root capsules.
- Consume onion: This vegetable acts as a natural blood thinner and can prevent clot formation. Some research suggests that onions benefit the lens of the eyes.
- Vitamin E and C: Supplements like E and C are loaded with antioxidants that help fight toxins. Foods like nuts and citrus fruits can increase your supply of these vitamins as well.
- Homeopathy: Arnica Montana is considered by homeopaths to be an effective remedy for brown spots on the sclera. Arnica Montana comes from the sunflower family. If you know a homeopath, talk to him or her about other potential remedies for brown spots in the white of the eyes.
- Look at medications: Discuss any medications that you are prescribed with your doctor before actually taking them. Ask if there is any history of the medication causing brown spots in the white of the eye. If the answer is yes, then request a different medication.
While many people say they have benefited from the type of natural tips mentioned above, it is important to see a doctor or ophthalmologist if and when you notice brown spots on the white of your eye.
In the majority of cases, spots on sclera may be unsightly but are harmless. However, it is better to be safe by getting the eye checked out by a qualified professional. Putting your eye health at risk just doesn’t make a lot of sense.