Striking Eyes That Unnerve You: How Optometrists Diagnose And Treat Uncommon Iris And Pupil Disorders

Posted on: 31 March 2015

There are some rare genetic disorders of the eye that create a striking appearance. As a parent, you may be terrified to see some of these disorders in your infant or toddler, but a visit to an optometrist can assure you that your child will be alright. In the most extreme case of these rare disorders, your child will only need corrective lenses to see properly.

After the optometrist, like one at Optometric Associates PC, puts your concerns in perspective, you might find that your child has a very unique appearance, one which may fascinate other adults and children. Here are some of those disorders and their unmistakable traits.

Heterochromia Iridis/Iridum

Since infants are born with dark-colored eyes, you will not notice anything unusual until several months after your baby is born and his or her eyes begin to lighten or darken. Because it is genetic, and somewhat random, you may not be aware that this disorder is in your family's or your partner's DNA. As your baby's eyes begin to change color, there are three types of this disorder that produce differently-colored eyes.

  • Complete Iridum/Iridis means that one eye is completely a different color than the other, or that one eye has two different iris colors than the other.
  • Sectoral Heterochromia means that parts of both eyes or just part of one eye, like a dot or spot, is different than the rest of the irises. Your baby could have hazel spots on brown eyes or blue spots on green eyes, etc.
  • Central Heterochromia produces a ring of one color around the irises that fades outward into a totally different color. In different light sources, it makes your baby's eyes look as though the eyes have changed color.

Heterochromia in any form is relatively harmless, although it can indicate eye disease in some patients. A visit to your optometrist will confirm or deny the genetic innocence of your baby's striking eyes.

Coloboma of the Iris

This genetic disorder gives your baby's eyes the appearance of a keyhole iris or a "cat's eye". The problem is not with the pupil, as you might assume, but with the development of the iris. Vision problems are common, but it is nothing too serious and nothing an optometrist cannot treat.


This is a permanent dilation of the pupil. It can happen to one or both eyes, and your baby will be very sensitive to light. The muscles of the iris are missing or unable to contract, leaving the pupil wide open. Your optometrist will prescribe special light diffusing glasses to prevent blindness in that eye. Once your baby is old enough to use contacts, there are special contact lenses which can alleviate the vision problems associated with this disorder.

Regular Visits to the Optometrist

If your baby or toddler is diagnosed with any of the above genetic disorders, expect to visit your family optometrist more often than once a year. The optometrist can keep an eye on the rare disorder and will make sure your child gets the treatment he or she needs. Most genetic eye disorders will require corrective lenses, but many people with heterochromia live their lives never needing glasses or contacts.