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What causes differently colored eyes?

ANSWER

The condition is called heterochromia iridis, and it affects the iris, the colored part of your eye.

Most of the time, it doesn't cause any problems. It's often just a color quirk that's caused by genes inherited from parents or by a problem that happened when the eyes were being formed. In rare cases, though, it can be a symptom of something else. It could be a health problem or a condition a person was born with.

It's common in some animals, but rare in humans. It affects fewer than 200,000 people in the United States.

SOURCES:

CMAJ/JMAC Canadian Medical Association Journal : "Heterochromia."

National Institutes of Health, Genetic and Rare Diseases Center: "Heterochromia iridis," "Waardenburg syndrome," "Sturge-Weber Syndrome," "Progressive hemifacial atrophy," "Horner's Syndrome."

National Institutes of Health, Genetics Home Reference: "Is eye color determined by genetics?"

American Academy of Opthalmology: "Preventing Eye Injuries," "What is Ocular Melanoma?" "Heterochromia."   

"American Cancer Society: "Neuroblastoma," "Melanoma Skin Cancer."

Reviewed by Brian S. Boxer Wachler on December 13, 2018

SOURCES:

CMAJ/JMAC Canadian Medical Association Journal : "Heterochromia."

National Institutes of Health, Genetic and Rare Diseases Center: "Heterochromia iridis," "Waardenburg syndrome," "Sturge-Weber Syndrome," "Progressive hemifacial atrophy," "Horner's Syndrome."

National Institutes of Health, Genetics Home Reference: "Is eye color determined by genetics?"

American Academy of Opthalmology: "Preventing Eye Injuries," "What is Ocular Melanoma?" "Heterochromia."   

"American Cancer Society: "Neuroblastoma," "Melanoma Skin Cancer."

Reviewed by Brian S. Boxer Wachler on December 13, 2018

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