What causes heterochromia?

by | Oct 8, 2020 | Blog

heterochromia in people 3for1 glasses Hamilton for eye test

Heterochromia is a unique condition that affects the color of the eyes. Derived from the Greek words heteros and chroma, it translates to “different colors”. It is caused by variations of melanin, the pigment that gives color to the skin, hair, and eyes. Melanin is what makes your eyes blue, green, or brown. Small amounts of melanin lead to lighter eye color while brown eyes are rich in melanin.
In most cases, this condition does not affect one’s ability to see clearly. However, there are several different types of heterochromia and a wide variety of potential causes.

Types of heterochromia and their causes

A baby can be born with heterochromia or develop it soon after birth. In these cases, it is called congenital heterochromia.
Infants might also develop this condition because of another disease. These diseases are usually genetic such as Horner’s syndrome, Sturge-Weber syndrome, Piebaldism, Bloch-Sulzberger syndrome, Bourneville disease, to name a few.
It is also possible to develop this condition later in life. In these instances, it is referred to as acquired heterochromia and is usually caused by an injury or disease.
Causes later in life may include:

  • Uveitis
  • Fuchs’ heterochromic cyclitis
  • Glaucoma
  • Pigment dispersion syndrome
  • Iris tumors
  • Acquired Horner’s syndrome
  • Posner-Schlossman syndrome
  • Diabetes
  • Injury
  • Bleeding in the eye

If you notice a change in the color of one or both of your eyes, it is a good idea to schedule an eye appointment so that one of our optometrists can discover the cause and see if you need treatment for your heterochromia.
Contact 3-for-1 glasses Hamilton to book your eye exam today.

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