What Causes Eye Color to Change in Adults?

Girl's eyes

Eye color is largely determined by the amount and type of pigmentation in the iris, as well as how the iris scatters and absorbs light. In most cases, an adult’s eye color remains stable over time. However, there are a few factors that can cause eye color to change in adults, although such changes are typically gradual and not dramatic. Some of these factors include:

  • Aging: It’s common for the eye color to change slightly as a person ages. This is due to changes in the composition of the iris and the amount of melanin present. Some people may notice their eye color becoming lighter or darker as they get older.
  • Lighting and environment: The lighting and environment in which you are observed can affect the perception of your eye color. For example, different lighting conditions, clothing colors, and surroundings can make your eyes appear to change color temporarily.
  • Medical conditions: Certain medical conditions, such as glaucoma or Fuch’s heterochromic iridocyclitis, can cause changes in the appearance of the iris and lead to heterochromia, a condition where each eye has a different color. In some cases, medications used to treat these conditions may affect the iris.
  • Injuries and trauma: Eye injuries or trauma can damage the iris, leading to changes in eye color. However, this is usually the result of a severe injury and not a common cause of eye color change.
  • Medications: Some medications, particularly those containing prostaglandin analogs (used to treat glaucoma), have been reported to cause darkening of the iris. This change is typically associated with long-term use of these medications.
  • Cataract surgery: In some cases, cataract surgery may affect the appearance of the iris and cause a temporary change in eye color. This is usually due to the removal of the cataract, which can alter the way light interacts with the eye.

It’s important to note that while these factors can lead to subtle changes in eye color, dramatic or sudden changes are rare and should be investigated by a healthcare professional, as they may be indicative of underlying medical conditions or eye health issues. If you notice a significant and rapid change in your eye color, it is essential to consult with an ophthalmologist or eye specialist to determine the cause and receive appropriate care.

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