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What is it called when your eyes are blue and green?

What is it called when your eyes are blue and green?

Having eyes that appear blue and green is a rare and striking trait. This eye color is the result of having low to moderate amounts of melanin in the iris, allowing light to scatter and reflect off different colors. The specific name for eyes that are both blue and green is “blue-green heterochromia.” Heterochromia refers to having two different eye colors, while blue-green specifies the mix of shades. This eye condition is quite fascinating and many people find it extremely attractive and mesmerizing.

Causes of Blue-Green Heterochromia

There are a few different causes of blue-green heterochromia:

– Genetics – Heterochromia can be inherited genetically. The gene responsible for eye color is OCA2 and certain variations of this gene disrupt melanin production, leading to unique eye colors. If a parent has blue-green heterochromia, their child has a higher chance of inheriting it.

– Injury or Disease – Trauma, inflammation, or tumors affecting the iris can alter melanin content and cause one eye to change colors over time. For example, Fuch’s heterochromic iridocyclitis specifically causes one blue and one brown eye.

– Pigment Dispersion Syndrome – This condition causes pigment cells to flake off from the back of the iris and accumulate in the front, blocking light reflection and altering color. It commonly causes blue-green heterochromia.

– Waardenburg Syndrome – A genetic condition that causes pigmentation deficiencies, including bright blue eyes or heterochromia. Blue-green eyes can occur with this syndrome.

Prevalence of Blue-Green Eyes

Blue-green heterochromia is quite rare globally, occurring in less than 1% of the population. However, it is more common in certain groups:

Population Prevalence
Global Less than 1%
Northern Europeans 1-2%
People with Waardenburg Syndrome 10-15%

As shown, northern European populations have slightly higher rates around 1-2%, likely because blue and green eye colors are more common in these groups overall. The prevalence is significantly higher in those with Waardenburg syndrome since heterochromia is a symptom.

How Blue-Green Eyes Appear

There are a few ways that blue-green heterochromia can appear:

– One eye entirely blue, the other entirely green
– Central blue with a green outer ring, or vice versa
– Blend of blue and green regions across the iris
– More blue concentrated at the top, more green at the bottom
– Ray pattern of alternating blue and green
– Small flecks of blue on a green background, or vice versa

The exact pattern varies greatly by individual. It depends on the specific disruptions and distributions of melanin content within each iris. Some peoples’ eyes appear more blue or green depending on lighting conditions and clothing colors as well. The variety of possible appearances is part of what makes blue-green eyes so striking and unique.

Differences Between the Blue and Green Eyes

Since each eye has different melanin content, there can be some key differences between the blue and green eyes beyond just color:

– Light sensitivity – The eye with less melanin (usually the blue one) often has increased light sensitivity. Melanin helps block excess sunlight from reaching the retina.

– Visual acuity – Some research indicates the eye with more melanin often has slightly better visual acuity. Melanin may aid with reducing light scatter and chromatic aberration effects.

– Need for eye protection – The eye with less melanin needs more protection from UV. Wearing sunglasses in bright light can help avoid damage.

– Susceptibility to eye issues – The lighter eye may face higher risk for certain conditions like light-triggered migraines, macular degeneration, or melanomas of the eye.

Overall, the differences are quite subtle and both eyes typically have similar vision abilities. But additional care and protection for the lighter eye are recommended.

Is Blue-Green Heterochromia Harmful?

In most cases, blue-green heterochromia is completely harmless and does not impact eye health or vision. The only exception would be if it is caused by an underlying eye disease, like Horner’s syndrome, Fuch’s heterochromic iridocyclitis, or pigment dispersion syndrome.

These conditions can sometimes lead to issues like glaucoma or cataracts if left untreated. So if blue-green heterochromia arises later in life or is accompanied by other symptoms, it is important to see an ophthalmologist to rule out or manage any possible conditions.

But when no other eye disorders are present, blue-green heterochromia itself causes no medical issues and requires no treatment. It is merely a benign variation in eye pigmentation. The eyes are functionally identical.

Diagnosing the Cause of Blue-Green Heterochromia

An ophthalmologist can diagnose the underlying cause of blue-green eyes through:

– Patient history – Asking about any family history of heterochromia or vision problems. Learning if it was present since birth or developed later in life.

– Eye exam – Checking for any abnormalities with pupillary responses, eye pressure, optic nerve appearance, etc. Distinguishing heterochromia from eye diseases.

– Genetic testing – If needed, genetic tests can identify mutations linked to Waardenburg syndrome, albinism, or other pigment disorders.

– Medical imaging – Scans like optical coherence tomography or ultrasound can reveal iris tumors, injuries, or inflammation that may be responsible.

Determining if the heterochromia is genetic or acquired is important for gauging any associated health risks and need for ongoing monitoring. Genetic causes are usually more benign.

Cosmetic Options for Blue-Green Heterochromia

Since blue-green eyes are so striking and beautiful, many people do not want to correct their heterochromia and opt to embrace this rare trait. However, there are cosmetic options for those who wish to make their eye colors match:

– Colored contact lenses – Color contacts mask the natural eye color underneath. Blue contacts can cover a green eye or vice versa.

– Tattooing the iris – Inks can be directly tattooed onto the iris to change color, but this carries risks like infection.

– Prosthetic contacts – Custom contacts are painted to precisely mimic the iris pattern and colors of the other eye.

– Eye drops – Unproven herbal or synthetic drops claim to change iris color over time by killing pigment cells. None are FDA-approved.

Contact lenses provide the safest, temporary option. Permanent approaches like tattooing and drops have more risks and uncertainties. Most ophthalmologists recommend against them.


Blue-green heterochromia is a rare eye condition resulting in one blue and one green eye. It is caused by varying melanin content and light reflection in each iris, and can create stunning eye color patterns. While usually harmless, it can indicate underlying eye disease in some cases. But generally blue-green heterochromia just provides a unique appearance without affecting vision. Those with these captivating eyes can choose to proudly display their genetic rarity.