What Is Heterochromia Iridis? Photo Of Woman’s Split Iris Goes Viral

A photo posted on the online image sharing community Imgur by a user Monday showed a woman’s iris split into two halves, each having a different color. The photo garnered over 800,000 views on Imgur at the time of publishing this story. The user, who posted the photo, also shared a link to a Facebook page called “Szymon Podubny Photos” that has various pictures including those of eyes.

The photo was also featured on Reddit.com where people appeared to be curious about the condition of the woman’s iris. One of the Reddit users 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 “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. Segmental heterochromia occurs when areas of the same iris are different in color,” according to the Department of Health and Human Services.

The condition is said to occur at irregular intervals and is not associated with any other significant symptoms or problems, according to the department. Heterochromia iridis can be a part of a congenital (present from birth) syndrome like the Waardenburg syndrome, Horner’s syndrome, Sturge-Weber syndrome or Parry-Romberg syndrome, which are inherent. However, the Department of Health and Human Services stated it rarely occurs.

Causes:

If a child is born with heterchromia, they will not experience other symptoms and are not likely to have any other problems with their eyes or general health, according to the American Academy of Opthalmology.

However, if the condition is developed later in life, it is called acquired heterochromia. Some causes of acquired heterochromia include:

  1. It can stem from an eye injury or eye trauma, such as from being hit in the eye. It could be one of the reasons a person’s eye might change color.
  2. Glaucoma might be another possible cause. It is an eye disease, which leads to increased pressure in a person’s eyes from fluid buildup and is capable of causing vision loss. However, early detection of the condition and treatment can help prevent the loss of vision.
  3. Clouding of the cornea or color changes in the cornea from various conditions might cause a person’s iris to falsely appear to be different in color.
  4. Eye cancer or melanoma can affect the eye in certain rare cases. It occurs in the melanin — the pigment that gives your eyes (hair and skin) their color. A dark spot on the iris is one of the most significant signs of eye melanoma, which commonly leads to blurry vision or sudden vision loss.

Treatment:

If a child has heterochromia, he or she should be examined by an ophthalmologist. The ophthalmologist will be able to confirm the condition and look for any underlying causes. In most cases if an infant has heterochromia, there will be no concerning disease or condition present that could lead to the eye color variation, according to the American Academy of Opthalmology. However, it is essential to rule out the possibilities by getting the child checked by a doctor.

Treatment for the condition mainly focuses on curing any underlying causes. If there are no issues with the eyes or general health, no treatment would be needed. If you contracted heterochromia as an adult, you should visit your ophthalmologist immediately. The doctor would perform a detailed eye exam to rule out any underlying causes and come up with a treatment plan, if necessary. For example, if the heterochromia is secondary to an underlying cause in the eyes such as inflammation, treatment should be directed towards the inflammation of the eyes.

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