When musician David Bowie passed away in 2016, there were many articles about him that were accompanied by photos. People began to comment on his differently colored eyes, a condition called heterochromia, when actually Bowie had another condition altogether — a condition known as anisocoria.
What is Anisocoria?
Anisocoria is a condition in which a person’s eyes have different sized pupils. Normally, the pupils of the eyes are equal in size, but in individuals with anisocoria, one pupil may be larger or smaller than the other. Anisocoria can be temporary or persistent and can affect one or both eyes.
In Bowie’s case, it was actually the result of a fight with a classmate. Bowie was punched in his left eye. His friend’s fingernail scratched the surface of Bowie’s eye paralyzing the muscles that contract the iris.
Bowie’s eyes were blue. But because the pupil in his left eye was so large, it appeared black and made it look as though his eyes were different colors.
Other causes of anisocoria include (but are not limited to):
- a nervous system problem (such as traumatic brain injury, tumors, or aneurysms)
- eye conditions (such as glaucoma or uveitis)
- medications (for example, certain eye drops or drugs that affect the nervous system)
- viral infection (such as meningitis)
What if You Have Unexplained Anisocoria?
The treatment for anisocoria depends on the underlying cause. In some cases, no treatment is necessary, while in others, medical or surgical intervention may be required.
If you or someone you know has a new onset or an unexplained occurrence of anisocoria, it will require a visit to your eye doctor for proper diagnosis. As noted above, it could be related to another more serious medical condition.
To schedule an appointment with Atlantic Medical Eye Care in central New Jersey, simply contact us — we’re happy to see you and help you care for your vision.
I understand the Bowie was not apparently, born with heterochromia; However, if you take the colour of the outer parts of both of his irises, the colours do not match. The right, normal eye was a much brighter blue than the hazel/grey of the left. Maybe this shade variation is not obvious to those who can see less of the colour spectrum, but it is very obvious to many.
Taking colour samples on multiple photos backs this up.
I wonder if Bowie actually had heterochromia prior to the injury which caused the anisocoria, or if the colour change was a result of the injury?
My guess is that he was under glaucoma medication (hypotenseur) to lower the intra-ocular pression and hinder the risk of forming a glaucoma. This medication is known to alter iris colour.