Common Causes Of Brown Spots In The Eye

The sclera is the white part of the eye. It is a protective layer that surrounds the cornea. The sclera’s color is white and could feature a bluish hue. If you have dark skin, it can also be slightly darker due to the increased pigmentation. It can be scary if you notice that the sclera has a brown spot on it. Where did it come from, what does it mean, and is medical attention necessary? It is only natural to worry, and you might have a tone of questions, some that we will over herein.

Should you seek medical attention?

In the modern information age, DIYs are a huge thing. Before seeking medical attention, you’ll probably self-diagnose and try home remedies and over-the-counter medication. While it works in some instances, the approach is not always productive. You might get rid of the immediate concern. Nonetheless, this only addresses the symptoms, not the root cause. This means that the problem will reoccur in the near future.

When sclera has a brown spot on it, it might mean nothing or indicate a serious developing issue. As such, seeking medical attention to get through diagnosis and establish the cause, treatment and management are essential. You might be relieved to learn that the spot is nothing to be concerned about. In other cases, you might need to make some changes to stop the problem in its tracks or have more tests to establish the root cause and begin treatment.

Whether due to a minor issue or signifying a serious concern, seeking immediate medical attention is necessary. Below is a glance at the common reasons you might notice sclera has a brown spot on it.

Iris pigmentation

Do you have excessive iris pigmentation? You might have pigment dispersion syndrome (PDS), a condition that results from pigment rubbing off on the back of your iris. It floats around to other parts, hence a brown spot. If you have PDS, medical intervention can’t be stressed enough. This is noting that excessive pigment can clog your eye drainage. The result is eye pressure, which can damage the optic nerve and lead to glaucoma.

Primary acquired melanosis (PAM)

Brown spots caused by PAM are prevalent during middle-ages and in white individuals during older years. PAM is painless and usually goes undetected for years since it can be present without causing any changes or formation of spots. It can then transform into malignant spots. PAM is a potentially dangerous melanocytic lesion since it can cause melanoma development. This emphasizes the need for routine eye checkups or immediate attention one you see sclera has a brown spot on it.

Conjunctival pigment

The conjunctival pigment is caused by various factors, including chemical irritation, chronic inflammation, and cancer. The simple explanation is that lesions form, and the treatment approaches vary following the classification. For instance, benign conjunctival nevi treatment included surgery, preventing it from developing into malignant melanoma and restoring your aesthetics.

Axenfeld nerve loops

Your sclera contains long nerves called axenfeld nerve loops. The loops are white or gray, as seen under the conjunctiva. At times, they can be mistaken for foreign objects in your eye, especially since they are surrounded by pigment. The loops are normal, but they can sometimes develop into cancer. Besides the scary brown spot, seeking medical attention can help establish if the normal loops are changing for the worse, preventing the likelihood of cancer.

Benign conjunctival nevi

They are common in the early years, usually below 10. While they are benign, they can change and develop for the worse. This makes it crucial to go for routine checks, ascertaining that they won’t cause significant problems.


Do you use eye drops containing epinephrine? Such medication can darken the conjunctiva, leading to brown spots. Exposure to industrial or use of silver in photography can also lead to conjunctival discoloration. Besides the impact of medication, your body changes can also lead to brown spots. For example, hormone changes and concerns like endocrine diseases affect melanin production. The changes cause slow but progressive conjunctiva darkening, and you can notice that the sclera has a brown spot on it over time. Medication and body changes affect your eyes too. With professional assistance, you can establish what is causing the darkening and take relevant measures to reverse the situation.

Foreign objects

How well do you protect your eyes, especially when working in demanding environments like carpentry? Metal shavings, wood chips, dust, and insects, to mention a few objects, can make their way into your eye. The foreign object can appear as a brown spot under the eyelid or sclera’s surface. You might even be used to it following your continued exposure. Nonetheless, some can get trapped, and attempting to remove them becomes tricky. In such instances, it is best if you seek medical attention. Trying to dislodge the object can cause significant, even permanent, eye damage.

What’s in your eye care regimen? If you are like many health-conscious individuals, you probably have certain measures in place, such as:

  • Routine checks
  • Proper nutrition
  • Hydration
  • Safety glasses, especially outdoor
  • Improving indoor air quality, and
  • Cutting bad habits like smoking, to mention a few

Such measures can help keep your eyes healthy and easily detect developing concerns.

After noticing a brown spot on sclera or other discoloration concerns, you might not look forward to an appointment with your eye doctor. It is understandable; someone poking around the eye can seem uncomfortable or risky. Nonetheless, the doctors are experienced experts and won’t be poking around but rather running thorough tests.

Brown spots on sclera exams include looking closer into your eye, the spot, and the blood vessels surrounding it using specialized tools and procedures. This is called a fluorescein angiogram. It allows the doctor to capture images of the spot from the back of your eye.

The tests usually require monitoring the spots over time, establishing if they change, such as in shape, color, or size. It is a pain-free procedure helping establish the root cause of the spot. Changes can be scary, but don’t be too worried that you suppress them. Seek medical attention as soon as possible if you notice a brown spot on the sclera.

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