If you have different colored eyes, July 12th is your day. Heterochromia, the medical name for different colored eyes, is enjoyed by only about one percent of the human population and, in most cases, the condition is benign. However, when heterochromia occurs later in life or following an illness or disease, it may be a sign of larger problems.
If you were born with eyes that were the same color but, over time, have experienced pigmentation changes, it’s best to make an appointment with your eye doctor to determine if something more sinister is at work. The same is true in individuals born with heterochromia who notice changes in their pigmentation as they age. This, too, may be a sign of a more serious and worrisome condition.
Types of Heterochromia
There are three types of heterochromia:
- Complete heterochromia in which both eyes are a single, unique color
- Partial/sectoral heterochromia in which part of one iris is different in color from the rest
- Central heterochromia in which the inner ring of the iris, closest to the pupil, is a different color
Heterochromia is not typically genetic and there does not seem to be much rhyme or reason behind who is and is not born with the condition. However, according to the National Institutes of Health, the condition may be related to underlying genetic issues such as:
- Bourneville disease
- Horner's syndrome
- von Recklinghausen disease
- Waardenburg syndrome
These and similarly rare genetic disorders may result in different coloration in the iris and are typically diagnosed based on symptoms occurring elsewhere in the body.
Acquired heterochromia, or changes in iris pigmentation later in life, may be the result of a serious medical condition such as diabetes, but may also be related to eye conditions including:
- Posner-Schlossman Syndrome
- Iris ectropion syndrome
- Pigment dispersion syndrome
- Tumors in the eye
Injury to the eye, eye surgery, and medications used to treat glaucoma such as Latisse and Xalatan (latanoprost) may also result in acquired heterochromia.
Because heterochromia is typically benign, there is nothing that will need to be done to address the issue in a majority of cases. If cosmetic concerns are present, different colored contact lenses can be used to create a more consistent appearance – although many famous individuals, including David Bowie, Idina Menzel, Christopher Walken, Max Scherzer, and Kate Bosworth, have chosen to leave their heterochromia untouched, opting instead to allow the condition to provide distinction. When the issue is related to an underlying genetic concern or a newly developed disease or disorder, treatment will focus on those medical concerns, not changing iris pigmentation.
While heterochromia cannot be “treated” as such, acquired heterochromia or changes in pigmentation – even in men and women who have long lived with the condition – should be brought to the attention of our eye doctors. We offer a comprehensive range of diagnostic services, enabling us to determine if there is an underlying problem and to begin crafting a treatment plan that addresses those much larger concerns.
To schedule a consultation at our Poughkeepsie or Yorktown location, please call 845-454-1025 today. Seeta Eye Centers has been trusted by men and women throughout the Hudson Valley for more than 50 years. Our dedication to advanced technology, patient care, and optimal results is evident in all that we do. Call us today to schedule your consultation and learn more.