Nope. They are real!
I’m also not blind in one eye, I do see the same colours out of each eye and no, I did not consume my twin in the womb. It would surprise you how many times, I have been asked all of the above.
So what is it?
I actually have a trait called Heterochromia Iridum (HCI), which exists in 3 main forms; Central, Sectoral and complete. Central HCI is when the colour around the eye’s pupil, is different to the colour of the rest of the iris. Sectoral HCI is when there is a section or strip of the iris, that is different in colour to the rest of the iris. Complete HCI is when one iris is a completely different colour from the other iris. I have sectoral, which is confusing because they look complete (I have a section of blue at the top of my brown eye, right underneath the eyelid).
Approximately 1% of the entire population of Earth has HCI and it occurs, in animals and humans alike, for a variety of reasons. Some people are simply born with HCI, which is usually due to an inherited dominant trait. These people will have parents with it too. Other people may acquire HCI (e.g. due to an injury to the iris). Chimerism and genetic mosaicism are also causes (and produce some very beautiful animals!!). It can also be a characteristic of various syndromes and diseases, such as Waardenburgs syndrome, pigment dispersion syndrome, (congenital and acquired) Horner’s syndrome and piebaldism.
Celebrities with Heterochromia
BUT NOT DAVID BOWIE
Heterochromia and Me
Luckily, my HCI is harmless – however I wasn’t just born with it. I was born with blue eyes and one began to change brown, when I was around 18 months old. My parents were obviously terrified and made a hospital appointment as soon as possible. The doctors performed a variety of tests, but failed to find any health issues at all.
I do however have other mutations, one called Distichiasis. This mutation causes multiple layers of eyelashes, instead of just one (I have 4 layers, I think??) which is annoying and sometimes very very painful. As well as Distichiasis, I also have a variety of different coloured patches in my hair (brown, blonde, red and sometimes black). Both of the mutations I believe to be connected, in some way, with heterochromia. On top of dealing with these, I also have the inability to find any eye shadow, other than nude, that looks half decent with both my eyes – so that’s a complete nightmare (please hmu with ideas!).
My younger sister also has sectoral HCI, although the brown patch in her eye is a lot smaller than mine – only taking up approximately 25% of her eye. Due to my sister also having it, doctors believe HCI to be a recessive trait in both of my parents (they have the gene, but don’t display the characteristic) which is how it was passed on to us!
How Heterochromia Ruined School
My childhood was pretty difficult because of HCI. I was bullied from as early as I can remember, all the way up to year 7. The bullying got so bad throughout primary school, that the police were involved and visited me regularly. They told me to keep a diary, of all the things the bullies did to me – which reading it, still breaks my heart today. No child should ever go through that, especially because of the way they look. Although the bullies went to different secondary schools, I still received the odd hurtful comment from fellow pupils and teachers alike.
One incident, that I still remember so clearly and will probably never forget, was when my science teacher (let’s say he’s called…’Mr. Wan Carr’) made a comment in front of the whole class. Mr. Carr was taking a class about ‘Inherited Traits’ and obviously, I expected to be used as an example – I always was. But what I did not expect, was for him to write ‘heterochromia’ on the board, with a huge arrow next to it saying ‘complete freaks’. Now, I know it’s not the worst thing he could have said and if he said it to me now, I’d just punch him right in his massive bold head (Please note: I am not condoning violence) but I was 14 years of age!?!? He purposefully made a malicious comment, towards a child, in front of 30 other students who all proceeded to laugh. I wanted the floor to swallow me whole. The worst thing was, the school did absolutely nothing about it.
So What Do I Think of it Now?
I still receive nasty comments now, if anything adults are worse than the kids ever were – especially on social media. Outside of the internet, people stare, people whisper and point. For someone with anxiety, it’s the worst. I wish they would just ask me about it, instead of making me feel uncomfortable. Although it does still really bother me, I think I’ve stopped noticing as much when people stare. It’s more of a problem for David. He just wants to fight every guy that notices – which is quite funny.
Its been a love-hate relationship between me and HCI, but now I BLOODY LOVE my eyes. I’ve despised it my entire life, but why? Because others are too ignorant to ask me what it is? Because they would rather make me self-conscious, rather than compliment me or just keep their opinions to themselves? Because they are jealous? No more folks. I love my eyes, you won’t get to me.
They make me unique and proud to be me.
The Heterochromia Community
Last year, I was lucky enough to stumble across an amazing HCI group on Facebook, after a really horrendous girl used my photos to ‘catfish’ people online. This group was full of people like me and I’d never met anyone else with HCI before – so as you can imagine, this was in-cred-ible! I’d never before felt accepted, but now I’m part of this amazing community full of ‘heterochromians’ from all over the globe! Some members have been kind enough to share a few of their HCI stories for this post, so here they are:
“I performed an image search and then I saw the other types too and then something forced me to examine my eyes and then it hit home…I finally knew what was wrong with my eyes which is that I have Central (left) and sectoral (right). Heterochromia, the colors that I have are Brown, Green, Blue, Grey with golden glow”
– Joanna-ace zonder Van
“I’ve had enough people comment on my eyes for my patience to be tested over the years, but I do remain very patient and understanding with people unfamiliar with the condition. My eyes can be striking, since they contrast quite heavily, and I don’t blame anyone for staring. However, a funny bit is that I have a friend who has a rather bad case of OCD, and he can’t bear to look me in the eyes because the colours don’t match, haha. He’s very sweet, though…I was born with genetic mosaicism – I have 2 complete sets of DNA, and 46 chromosomes – an XX and an XY. Because of this, I am technically intersex – I was born without a uterus, and with no functional Fallopian tubes, as well as a small prostate instead of the usual parts. Externally, I appear, for all intents and purposes, as a female, and my sensitivity hasn’t been detracted from my condition, thankfully. The condition was caused when, in the womb, I had a triplet male sibling, whose zygote I had consumed. I was to be a diovual monozygotic twin – that is, 2 eggs combining to one sac. Most monozygotic twins are identical, but I was not. So consequently, when I absorbed the failed twin, I inherited his DNA, as well, and now have 2 different blood types, 2 different coloured eyes, 2 different patterns of kidney and liver tissue, 2 variants of bone marrow to produce the different blood, and an interesting immune system. My heterochromia, therefore, was resultant of my genetic condition”
– Elizęwa Ziółkowska
“I get a lot of weird comments and questions but my favorite is “do you see differently than other people?” Lol…I did have one incident that occurred because of my eyes. I was in the us Air Force and we have a flight line badge that provides a description and the security police would check that badge. At first my badge only listed my eyes as blue because there wasn’t space to put a color for each eye. Well the SP only saw my brown eye and thought that I wasn’t who I said I was. They quickly figured out how to list both eye colors on that badge.”
– Michelle Shuls Rohan
“I was born with two blue eyes. When I was between 2 and 3 years old, one of my eyes began to change color from blue to brown, but the other remained the same blue. Technically I have a genetic mutation in my blue eye, which did not allow my blue eye to follow suit and change to brown… I was 19 years old and working as a hostess at a restaurant back in Alaska. This group of older women walk in, around 60 years old, just chatting amongst themselves and kind of ignoring me aside from telling me their group number. When I turned to walk them to their table I immediately noticed one of them had two different colored eyes!! I was so excited, ‘ oh my god, you have two different colored eyes!’ I probably sounded like tons of people she’s heard throughout her life commenting on it. So she was kind of shrugging me off, and just said ‘yes I do’ and began walking herself to the table. Then I said, ‘so do I!!’ And I kid you not, that woman turned around so fast and grabbed my face! Her and her friends were telling me how beautiful my eyes were. It was a literal 180 turn from kind of being ignored to having 3 strangers hold your face for 5 minutes”
– Dezarae Bascome
“My worst experience was during class in college. We had a group project and no one had noticed my eyes before. Suddenly my partner says, omg your eyes are so cool! Everyone had to look, ask questions, etc then when it was time to get back to our project, she said she didn’t know what to say to me and that she couldn’t look at me without getting distracted by how strange my eyes are. I finished it on my own and she never spoke to me again”
– Marsha Devine