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Genetic and Rare Diseases Information Center (GARD)

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Heterochromia iridis

Other Names for this Disease
  • Asymmetry in the pigmentation of the irides
  • Pigmentary abnormality of the anterior segment of the eye
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Your Question

I have green eyes with a yellow/brown tint, but one fourth of my right eye is dark brown.  I've been wanting to know more about heterochromia iridis: what is it and how rare is it?

Our Answer

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What is heterochromia iridis?

Heterochromia iridis is a condition in which the iris, the colored part of the eye, is composed of different colored patches or segments, or when the iris of one eye is a different color than the iris of the other eye.  This condition may involve one or both eyes.[1]  Most cases of heterochromia iridis occur by chance and are not associated with any other symptoms or problems.[2]  In some cases, heterochromia iridis may be present from birth as part of a genetic disorder, such as Waardenburg syndrome, Sturge-Weber syndrome, or Parry-Romberg syndrome.[2]  In other cases, this condition may be acquired if eye color changes after an injury to the eye, due to damage to nerves near the eyes, or in response to an environmental exposure.[2][1]
Last updated: 8/10/2011

How rare is heterochromia iridis?

One study of over 7000 children identified 47 as having heterochromia iridis.[3]  This suggests that heterochromia iridis occurs in 0.67% of people.
Last updated: 10/18/2013