What Causes Heterochromia? - Tucson Optometry Clinic

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What Causes Heterochromia?

Heterochromia - Woman with Irises of 2 Distinct ColorsHeterochromia is a condition in which the color of an individual’s iris changes colors. It is widely believed that heterochromia is a genetic condition passed down from one lineage to another; however, other studies suggest that the condition could be a result of iris nerve growth or eye injury. Heterochromia itself does not pose any significant health risk to individuals with it; however, it can grow and point to an underlying medical condition that you may be unaware of over time.

If you have been diagnosed with heterochromia or know someone dealing with it, you need to become educated about all of the various facts related to heterochromia so that you will know how to deal with the condition safely and effectively.

Below, we’re going to provide you with a detailed breakdown of everything you know about heterochromia and how you can better manage it.

What Are the Root Causes of Heterochromia?

As stated previously, the primary cause of heterochromia is frequently related to hereditary links. However, several different factors can trigger the development of heterochromia. An eye injury can cause this condition to form in addition to nerve growth directly near the iris. Heterochromia, in its early stages, doesn’t pose that much of a threat; however, it is when it begins to grow that your worry should start to set in.

It’s a reasonably uncommon disease, but it’s unique because it causes each of your eyes to become different colors. The condition can be present at birth and can be hardly noticeable unless a doctor is stringently checking for it. The only recognizable symptom of heterochromia is the differentiating colors in the iris area of your eyes.

Some of the risk factors associated with heterochromia are:

  • Ocular trauma
  • Familial genetic abnormalities
  • Inflammation

All of these symptoms are on the more extreme side of heterochromia as, in most cases, you can only notice the difference in eye color by taking pictures or looking closely at the eye area.

Dealing with Heterochromia

While there is no outright treatment for heterochromia alone, if it is coupled with an underlying condition, your care physician should provide you with solutions to target your pre-existing condition. Most people diagnosed with heterochromia do not experience any significant seeing loss or eyesight damage, which is good news if you think you may have this condition.

Most people experience very subtle to moderate symptoms of the condition. It’s believed to be widely nonprogressive, so there isn’t a huge concern about it spreading to other areas of your body. Doctors use a lamp light examination technique to identify and diagnose heterochromia in patients.

People Also Ask 

What are the different types of heterochromia?

There are three main categories of heterochromia: segmental, central heterochromia, and complete. All of these different categorizations are used to identify how severe the condition has gotten or become over some time.

What injuries can cause heterochromia?

Many injuries can irritate the symptoms and formation of heterochromia within the body. Some of them include eye surgery, bleeding in the eye, glaucoma, swelling, and more.

Can heterochromia cause blindness?

A: While it is rare and quite uncommon, heterochromia can cause blindness when coupled with pre-existing conditions such as inflammation of the eye. As a side effect of the disease itself, blindness is not commonly reported in people who have heterochromia.


Use all of this information to help you deal with heterochromia so that you can take care of yourself as best as possible. Remember, this condition is not life-threatening and poses very little to no risks at all. As long as you follow all of our tips, you will handle your heterochromia without breaking a sweat.

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