May 1, 2018
Do you have any friends who have two different colored eyes, like one hazel eye and one green eye? People who have irises that are different colors have a condition called heterochromia. If you’ve ever met someone with only part of one iris as a different color, they have partial heterochromia. And if you’ve ever seen someone who seems to have one color in a ring closer to their pupil, and another color in an outer ring near the whites of their eyes, this condition is called central heterochromia.
Fun fact: Heterochromia occurs in cats too! White and tuxedo cats are most prone because they carry genes that prevent melanin from reaching the iris during development.
According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, the vast majority of people who are born with this condition don’t experience any symptoms other than the different colors in their irises. However, the condition is sometimes actually a symptom of a bigger issue. Some of the more concerning causes of this condition include Horner’s syndrome, Sturge-Weber syndrome, and Waardenburg syndrome.
If it appears later in life, it is generally a result of a more serious condition, such as an eye injury or a disease like glaucoma.
Regardless of when it appears, a doctor should be consulted immediately to examine whether an underlying cause needs to be treated.
Because changing eye color can be caused by such a wide variety of conditions, it’s important to use basic eye protection practices. Here are some easy tips to keep healthy eyes:
Find even more eye care tips on the AAO website.