Two Reasons Why Your Eyes May Change Color

Posted on: 14 March 2017

It is commonly assumed eye color remains the same throughout a person's lifetime. However, there are a number of factors that may cause eyes to change from one color to another. Most are the result of natural processes, such as aging. However, here are two medical issues that can also cause changes in eye color.

Pigmentary Glaucoma

Also called pigment dispersion syndrome, pigmentary glaucoma is a type of open-angle glaucoma caused by color in the irises flaking off and gathering in or on other structures in the eye. In particular, the pigment particles will often clog the eye's drainage canals, leading to an increase in eye pressure. Over time, high intraocular pressure damages the optic nerve, leading to glaucoma and the associated vision loss.

This condition is caused by the iris' shape. In nearsighted people, the iris is concave, which causes the layer of pigment to rub against the lens and shed as a result. This condition occurs mostly in men and primarily those who are nearsighted.

Like most forms of glaucoma, pigmentary glaucoma is generally symptom-less. You typically won't know you have it until you suddenly start losing your vision or are diagnosed by an eye doctor. However, one side effect of this disease is your eye color may lighten as pigment is shed. Since this typically occurs over a long period of time, you may not notice until it's too late.

The condition is treated using medication to reduce eye pressure. The eye doctor may also recommend surgery to either improve drainage out of the eye or correct the shape of the iris. If caught early enough, treatment can prevent vision loss.

Fuch's Heterochromic Iridocyclitis

This is a rare type of chronic uveitis characterized by inflammation in the pigmented layer of the eye. Though there are a few different type of uveitis, Fuch's heterochromic iridocyclitis is name for chronic inflammation in the anterior chamber and irises. This disease makes a person more susceptible to developing cataracts and glaucoma. Additional abnormal blood vessels may develop and blood may accumulate in those anterior chambers.

The condition typically only occurs in one eye. In addition to pain, blurring, and the appearance of white spots on the cornea, the person's eye color will change. In fact, this is often the symptom most people notice first, since it results in them having two different colored eyes.

This condition can cause loss of vision. Unfortunately, successful treatment of the disease can be hit or miss and is typically based on the complications that may develop as a result of complications associated with the disease. For instance, the eye doctor may recommend glaucoma drainage implants to treat high intraocular pressure and cataract surgery if the person develops them.

For more information about these or other issues that may cause your eye color to change, contact an optometrist.