What is Heterochromia definition symptoms types and cuases


It is the condition in which the eyes are different colors. This color difference can be between the two eyes, in which each eye has a different color, being called complete heterochromia, or it can happen only in one eye, being called sectoral heterochromia, in which a single eye has 2 colors.

In most cases, heterochromia is caused by a genetic alteration and, therefore, it is a benign alteration that does not need any type of treatment, but it can also appear due to diseases or injuries that affect the eyes.

When a person is born with one eye of each color, this does not affect the vision or the health of the eyes, but it is always important to consult an ophthalmologist to check if there is any disease that may be causing the color change.

What are the symptoms of heterochromia?

It manifests itself in different ways, so it is classified in different ways . In central heterochromia , the eyes have circles of two or more colors in different parts of the iris.

Complete heterochromia means that each eye is a completely different color than the other  .

Finally, sectoral heterochromia receives this name because different “sectors” of the patient’s eyes have colors that are not the majority or main.

types of heterochromia

It can be classified into different types, according to the characteristics of eye color, the main ones being:

  • Complete heterochromia: in this type each eye has a completely different color from one another, such as one brown eye and the other blue, for example, being considered a rarer type of it,
  • Central heterochromia: This type of heterochromia usually affects both eyes, with the eyes having two different colors, such as a brown color near the pupil, which is the black part of the eye, and a different color towards the edge, such as green or blue, for example;
  • Sectoral or partial heterochromia: it is the most common type of heterochromia, which can occur in one or both eyes, characterized by two different colors in the eye, in the form of a slice or wedge, or each half of the eye of a different color, for example.

It usually does not cause symptoms, being present from birth, being a condition considered benign.

Possible causes

It is caused by a genetic alteration that leads to differences in the amount of melanin in each eye, which is the pigment that gives color to the eyes and skin, being a congenital and benign condition, normally present from birth. The more melanin, the darker the eye color.

However, the difference in eye color can also be caused by some health conditions such as:

  • Nevus of Ota;
  • Neurofibromatosis;
  • Horner’s Syndrome;
  • Waardenburg Syndrome;
  • Parry-Romberg syndrome;
  • Sturge-Weber Syndrome;
  • oculodermal melanocytosis;
  • Iridocorneal endothelial syndromes;
  • Neuroblastoma or paravertebral neuroma;
  • eye trauma;
  • Fuchs’ heterochromic iridocyclitis;
  • Siderosis or hemosiderosis;
  • Iris tumor.

In addition, other factors that can cause heterochromia are glaucoma, diabetes, inflammation and bleeding in the iris, bumps or foreign bodies in the eye.

When to go to the doctor

If a difference in eye color appears from birth, it is probably the result of a genetic alteration that does not affect the health of the baby’s eyes, but it is always recommended to go to the doctor to confirm the absence of other diseases or genetic syndromes that may have this characteristic.

How is heterochromia treated?

It is a physical characteristic of the patient that can be a sign of other diseases.nHowever, it is not a disease or symptom that requires specific treatment.

In the case of patients who feel uncomfortable with the different coloring, for example, heterochromia can be corrected through the use of colored contact lenses.

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