Heterochromia means “other colour”, so in this condition, which always only ever affects one eye, patients might notice that one is coloured differently to the other. This has no effect on vision, but patients with Fuch’s cyclitis (named after a famous German ophthalmologist) invariably develep a cataract which obviously does. This is an example of a patient with Fuch’s heterochromic cyclitis, which shows the difference in colour between the patients right eye (as she is looking at you) and her left.
In addition to cataract, patients might notice floaters, and occasionally patients develop glaucoma, so they need to be examined at least yearly by an optometrist and ideally an ophthalmologist for the rest of their lives, as glaucoma doesn’t present with symptoms and can cause a lot of peripheral visual loss without patients being aware of it.
Although cyclitis means inflammation of the ciliary body, (a form of iritis), the inflammatory component of this condition is very mild and rarely requires treatment.
We believe the condition is caused by rubella infection of the fetus in utero. With the advent of universal MMR vaccines, we should start to see a lot less of this already relatively rare condition in the future.