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What causes heterochromia?

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  • Some things that can cause heterochromia include: Eye trauma -- from being hit in the eye, for instance -- is one reason your eye might change color. More than 80% of eye injuries are caused by projects around the house, sports, or other recreational activities.
  • Glaucoma, which affects more than 3 million Americans, is another possible cause. It's an eye disease that leads to increased pressure in your eyes from fluid buildup. It can cause vision loss, but early detection and treatment can help prevent that.
  • Certain medicines, including some glaucoma drugs that lower pressure in your eye, may cause changes in eye color.
  • Neuroblastoma is a cancer of the nerve cells that usually affects children under 10. When tumors press on nerves in the chest or neck, sometimes kids have a drooping eyelid and a small pupil. They can also get heterochromia. See a doctor right away if your child's eye color changes.
  • Eye cancer: Melanoma can affect the eye in rare cases. It happens in melanin -- the pigment that gives your eyes (and hair and skin) their color. One sign of eye melanoma is a dark spot on the iris. Blurry vision or sudden vision loss are also common.

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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What should parent do if they have a baby with different colored eyes?

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