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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

My eyes are a blueish grey on the outside, with a yellow/brown ring around the iris. I have always just called them hazel, but after reading a little bit I am curious if this could be heterochromia iridis. My younger sister's eyes are just like mine too.

Our Answer

We have identified the following information that we hope you find helpful. If you still have questions, please contact us.

Would blueish grey eyes with a yellow/brown ring around the iris be considered heterochromia iridis?

The 'yellow/brown ring" likeli describes a "peripupillary ring" rather than heterochromia iridis.  To know for certain, we recommend that you discuss this question with your healthcare provider.

While we were unable to find data regarding the prevalence of peripupillary rings, these rings appear to be common in people with blue eyes.[1] Peripupillary rings may range in color from brownish, reddish, to yellowish. Factors (genetic and others) which dictate eye color is very complex, and the cause of peripupillary rings in not completely understood. The following links provide detailed information on eye color and may be of interest to you. 

University of Delaware article titled, Eye color: The myth

Prud’homme-Généreu A. More than Meets the Eye. National Center for Case Study Teaching in Science

Last updated: 7/5/2013

  • Mackey DA, Wilkinson CH, Kearns LS, Hewitt AW. Classification of iris colour: review and refinement of a classification schema. Clin Experiment Ophthalmol. 2011 Jul;39(5):462-71; Accessed 7/5/2013.