Central Heterochromia

Many medical words come from Greek or Latin root words. For heterochromia, the source word is from Greek and it means iris or hair color. Additionally, “heteros” is known to mean different while “chroma” refers to color. When you take these words in conjunction, it refers to someone who has one iris that is lighter or darker than their other iris.

This condition is thought to effect just 11 people out of every thousand within the United States. While central heterochromia is the main type of the condition, there are actually two other forms as well. This medical condition is thought to be caused by variations in the levels of pigmentation or melanin. Some of the various reasons for central heterochromia occurring include eye injury or disease. In addition, genetic mosaicism or chimerism are thought to be two other possible reasons. Chimerism, if you are unfamiliar with it, is a condition where different parts of your body have different DNA. While your kidneys could have one set of DNA, your lungs or eyes could be from another.

centralCentral Heterochromia

There are three essential types of heterochromia. You could have central, complete or sectoral heterochromia. These tend to be classified based on how your eyes changed and if it is a genetic cause. Most cases in the United States are from genetics, but some can be due to another medical condition or an injury. Central heterochromia in particular is caused when the center of the iris looks gold and the outer iris is blue. This is known commonly as having cats eyes and looks like two different types of colors within the eye. The real eye color will always be on the outer rim of the iris.


Sectoral Heterochromia Appearance

In this second type of heterochromia, you will have two entirely different colors within the same iris. It may look like a spot or a patch of a different color, but it will not form an entire ring around the pupil.


Complete Heterochromia

The previous two types involved just partial eye color differences. In the last type of heterochromia, your irises will be entirely different colors. You may have one brown eye and one blue eye, or you could have one green eye and one blue eye. This condition manifests in both humans and animals, and it is exceedingly rare. Like the previous conditions, it could be caused by genetics or chimarism as well as some instances where it is caused by an environmental source.


  1. I have one green eye and one blue eye. I also have the yellow ring around the pupil. I always had the yellow part of my eye, but it wasn’t until I was a teen that we noticed I had one blue eye. My little sister has blue eyes with the yellow ring but no other siblings have it. No one else in the entire family tree have eyes like ours.

    • Thank you for sharing the color of your eyes. It is always beneficial when members of our community share their supportive comments. Please share more of your thoughts and feelings in the future. Have a great day, Catherine!

  2. I have this. Part around pupil is yellow/gold and hurt her out is blue and green and outer I’m around the edges is some shade of darker vibrant blue. I’ve omly noticed it since late teens/early adulthood. I’m now 25.

    • Thank you for sharing your experiences. We always appreciate when members of our community share their supportive comments. Please share more of your thoughts and feelings in the future. Have a great day, Oksana!

  3. I was first child of nine with the same parents, I am now near 70. at least 6 or 7 of the nine have the gold circles and different shades of gray, blue, green and blue/green iris’s. Only 2 are fair skinned, most have olive skin. All my life people, optometrist, ophthalmologist and strangers have commented on my eyes. I know it is genetic because my father had this and some of my nieces have this same condition. While I continue to get compliments on my eyes, I still wonder why. Some of us have had DNA testing and we show up as immediate family but have different ethnicity. The strangest part of all of this is that we all had deep blue eyes until puberty, then our hair color darkened and we got the gold circles in our eyes. Strange? Can you give any reason for this?
    Thank you.

    • Genetics and the way that our genetics are expressed is a complicated and deeply detailed field. Our ancestors have traveled across the world for thousands of years. Your family may have traveled far and wide, which may explained that differences of appearances for your family members. Allow this knowledge to influence you to act with kindness and compassion at all times. Have a great day, Sue!

  4. I am pretty sure I have this. My inner color is a bright gold/yellow & the outer is a pale gray. My dad has pale gray eyes & my mom has dark brown. My brother has dark brown. I am also the only one in my family with photosensitivity, PMLE.

    • Thank you for sharing your insights and thoughts. Please feel free to share more of your thoughts and feelings in the future. Have a great day, Alicia!

  5. i have Central Heterochromia. Blue and brown eyes. But i’m not too sure why because neither of my parents have it. My dads eyes are brown and my moms are blue. Both me and my brother have it, with my eyes being blue and brown and my brothers being blue and green. Does anyone know why this is? Cause i’m very curious onto why this is.

    • Continue to research the causes of this. Look into genetics and the way that our genes express in our body. There is a lot to learn and your drive to understand the world will support you later in life. Feel free to share the information that you find. This will help many of our readers. Have a great day, Courtney!

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