Choroidal Naevus (Freckle)

Patient Experience

  • Reference Number: HEY-132/2023
  • Departments: Ophthalmology Department
  • Last Updated: 1 September 2023


This leaflet has been produced to give you general information about your condition.  Most of your questions should have been answered by this leaflet.  It is not intended to replace the discussion between you and the healthcare team, but may act as a starting point for discussion.  If after reading it you have any concerns or require further explanation, please discuss this with a member of the healthcare team.

What is a Choroidal Naevus?

They are pigmented (darkly coloured) patches seen in the retina at the back of the eye. They are similar to skin naevi (moles) that are present in other parts of the body and are probably present at birth, growing mainly in childhood and rarely beyond puberty.  Just like in the skin, the eyes contain cells which produce pigment and these cells can cause these “moles” to develop inside the eye. They are present in about 5 in 100 of the general population, most commonly in people with dark features.  Naevi tend to be incidental findings when you have an eye examination at the opticians or Ophthalmic Department for other eye problems.

Do I need treatment?

Generally, typical naevi are left well alone, but suspicious lesions are monitored as a very small percentage of naevi can develop into a malignant (cancerous) lesion known as Choroidal Malignant Melanoma (CMM). There are specific rare features of naevi which can be a warning sign of the possible development of early Choroidal Malignant Melanoma. The presence of these specific features would require a further referral to a regional centre (Sheffield) for further assessment. This is a rare event.

Fundus photographs (photographs of the retina) and specialised retinal scans are helpful in monitoring changes, although not all naevi require regular eye clinic monitoring.  A very small number of naevi that show growth or other suspicious features would need treatment.

Naevi are mostly harmless although certain types (which comprise only a small proportion of naevi) whilst not cancerous, may be associated with a mild visual loss over many years.

What happens afterwards?

You will have specialised photographs and scans taken so we can keep a record of its size and location. In some cases, we may need to make measurements of the naevus using an ultrasound scan machine.

If you are being discharged from the Eye Clinic, you will also be given a copy of this photograph to keep so that you can show it to your optician. We advise that you visit an optician on a yearly basis; the optician will be able to monitor your eye for changes.

You do not need to be followed up in the Eye Clinic unless the naevus need more monitoring or you have another eye problem.

Should you require further advice on the issues contained in this leaflet, please do not hesitate to contact the Ophthalmology Department (01482) 608788


General Advice and Consent

Most of your questions should have been answered by this leaflet, but remember that this is only a starting point for discussion with the healthcare team.

Consent to treatment

Before any doctor, nurse or therapist examines or treats you, they must seek your consent or permission. In order to make a decision, you need to have information from health professionals about the treatment or investigation which is being offered to you. You should always ask them more questions if you do not understand or if you want more information.

The information you receive should be about your condition, the alternatives available to you, and whether it carries risks as well as the benefits. What is important is that your consent is genuine or valid. That means:

  • you must be able to give your consent
  • you must be given enough information to enable you to make a decision
  • you must be acting under your own free will and not under the strong influence of another person

Information about you

We collect and use your information to provide you with care and treatment. As part of your care, information about you will be shared between members of a healthcare team, some of whom you may not meet. Your information may also be used to help train staff, to check the quality of our care, to manage and plan the health service, and to help with research. Wherever possible we use anonymous data.

We may pass on relevant information to other health organisations that provide you with care. All information is treated as strictly confidential and is not given to anyone who does not need it. If you have any concerns please ask your doctor, or the person caring for you.

Under the General Data Protection Regulation and the Data Protection Act 2018 we are responsible for maintaining the confidentiality of any information we hold about you. For further information visit the following page: Confidential Information about You.

If you or your carer needs information about your health and wellbeing and about your care and treatment in a different format, such as large print, braille or audio, due to disability, impairment or sensory loss, please advise a member of staff and this can be arranged.

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