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Eye Freckles in Dogs (Increased Pigmentation of the Iris)

Written By Tim Falk
Published: 02/02/2022Updated: 02/02/2022
Eye Freckles in Dogs - Symptoms, Treatment, Cost

Symptoms of Eye Freckles in Dogs (Increased Pigmentation of the Iris)

The most obvious sign of increased pigmentation of the iris is the appearance of a small dot that looks a lot like the freckles you see on your own skin. However, while some dogs develop a small black or brown dot, other dogs can experience a more extensive change in pigmentation.  

Signs to look for include:

  • One or more freckles in the iris
  • Change in iris color
  • Change in iris shape
  • Raised iris tissue

It’s important to note that the size and color of the freckle can change over time. Eye freckles may, in some cases, develop into a nevus, which is a flat or rounded spot that may appear raised compared to the rest of the eye. 

This can, in turn, lead to increased pressure within the eye, known as glaucoma. Symptoms of glaucoma include pain, redness, cloudiness, and different-sized pupils. A nevus can also potentially develop into a uveal melanoma, an eye tumor, so it’s important to get eye freckles checked out by a veterinarian as soon as possible.

The iris is the colored part of a dog’s eye. A pigment change in the iris, known as iris melanosis, can result in the formation of a freckle in the eye, which can be a great cause of concern for pet parents. 

The good news is that, in some cases, eye freckles are relatively harmless. However, they do need regular, ongoing monitoring as they can lead to other eye problems, such as glaucoma. They can also develop into a flat and rounded spot (known as a nevus) that has the potential to grow into a melanoma. 

Other conditions can cause black spots in the eyes, so get your dog checked out by a vet if you notice any changes in eye health.

Causes of Eye Freckles in Dogs (Increased Pigmentation of the Iris)

Eye freckles are the result of increased pigmentation of the iris. They can be a congenital condition or simply develop over time, and they may also be linked to UV light exposure. 

Increased pigmentation of the iris usually only affects one eye, but it can affect both eyes in some cases.

Diagnosis of Eye Freckles in Dogs (Increased Pigmentation of the Iris)

Your vet will perform a thorough examination of your dog’s eye to determine the cause of any pigmentation changes. They may also recommend taking your dog to see a veterinary ophthalmologist for expert diagnosis and treatment.

The ophthalmological examination may involve the use of an ophthalmoscope to examine the interior of the eye, and a tonometer to measure eye pressure. Gonioscopy, the examination of the iridocorneal angle of the eye, may also be performed to assess your pet’s eye health.

If melanoma is suspected, ultrasounds and X-rays may also be used to determine whether the cancer has spread to other parts of the body.

Treatment of Eye Freckles in Dogs (Increased Pigmentation of the Iris)

In many cases, eye freckles in dogs don’t require any treatment other than ongoing monitoring. Once your vet has examined the freckle and determined that it doesn’t currently require any treatment, monitor your pet’s eye health closely for any changes and seek veterinary attention if needed. Taking regular photos of the freckle can help you track changes as they occur.

However, if the increased pigmentation of the iris leads to the development of a melanoma, treatment varies depending on how far the cancer has progressed. Monitoring of the lesions may be recommended in some cases, but laser surgery can be an effective option for small tumors. Larger masses may require the complete removal of the eye.

In cases where glaucoma develops due to the increased pigmentation of the iris, treatment may involve the use of medication to reduce pressure and inflammation. Surgical options are also available, including the complete removal of the eye in severe cases.

Recovery of Eye Freckles in Dogs (Increased Pigmentation of the Iris)

Iris melanosis may not require any ongoing treatment or recovery other than regular monitoring of the eye. Checking your dog’s eye health regularly and taking your pup for regular check-ups at the vet will be enough to manage the condition.

However, if the increased pigmentation of the iris leads to other conditions, recovery times and management vary depending on the severity of the problem and the treatment required. 

For example, if a dog suffers from glaucoma and requires enucleation surgery to remove the affected eye, it’s a condition they’ll typically be able to adapt to relatively easily with only a moderate loss of depth perception. The prognosis for eye tumors is often also quite positive, but it does vary on a case-by-case basis. Consult your veterinarian for detailed advice on the best course of treatment and management for your pet.

Eye freckles can be expensive to treat. If you suspect your dog is at risk of developing eye freckles, start searching for pet insurance today. Wag! Wellness lets pet parents compare insurance plans from leading companies like PetPlan and Embrace. Find the “pawfect” plan for your pet in just a few clicks!
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Cost of Eye Freckles in Dogs (Increased Pigmentation of the Iris)

The cost of treating eye freckles in dogs can vary greatly depending on whether or not the increased pigmentation leads to a more serious condition. As a general guide, costs can range anywhere from $200 to $3,500.

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