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Heterochromia: A Beautiful Anomaly


Image borrowed from www.reddit.comThis photo was featured on where people appeared to be curious about the condition of the pictured woman’s iris.  A Reddit user called it “heterochromia iridum” and said “I have a form of that where most of my inner iris is green but there’s a small ring of blue encompassing it.”

Heterochromia iridis/iridum is a condition characterized by abnormalities of the iris (the colored part of the eye). In people affected by complete heterochromia, the iris of one eye is a different color than the iris of the other eye. Sectoral, or, partial heterochromia occurs when areas of the same iris are different in color. The condition is fairly rare and is not associated with any other significant symptoms or problems – except being especially captivating to look at and very unique!

3 Types of Heterochromia

Complete Heterochromia
The iris of one eye is a completely different color than the iris of the other eye.

Sectoral Heterochromia (or Partial Heterochromia)
Only a portion (or sector) of the iris of one eye has a different color than the rest of the iris of that eye. Partial heterochromia can occur in one eye or both eyes.

Central Heterochromia
The iris has a different color near the border of the pupil (compared with the color of the rest of the iris), with spikes of the central color radiating from the pupil toward the middle of the iris.



Photo of a patient with a small nevus in the bottom half of their iris.

Something that’s often confused with heterochromia is a benign growth called an iris nevus. A pigmented nevus in the iris usually is round in shape and brown in color. Usually, only one iris nevus is present, but it’s possible to have more. Though a person might argue that a brown iris nevus on a blue, green or hazel eye is a type of partial heterochromia, the term heterochromia usually isn’t used when the cause of the color variation in the iris is a nevus.

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