Eyes of a Different Color

by Marcia Coffey Turnquist

A new font/typeface for the cover and the novel is ready for sale! New typeface aside, what do you notice on first glance at the cover, that her eyes aren’t the same color?

The book cover, beautifully designed by Pete Stone, presents an image of my main character, Grace, who describes herself as having mismatched eyes, or, more derisively, being “lop-eyed.” In the medical world, the condition is known as heterochromia iridis or heterochromia iridum, both fancy names for irises with more than one color.

You’ve seen it: one eye may be lighter than the other or, as in Grace’s case, a completely different color. Here’s another set of eyes with the condition.

Boy with one green eye and one brown.

Heterochromia, in its many subtle forms, may not be as rare as you think. In fact, you wouldn’t notice most cases, because it can present as a partial discoloration on one side, as in this image…Sectoral Heterochromia Iridis.…or only a slight difference in color from one eye to the other.

slight eye color variation from one eye to the next.

What causes it? In some instances it’s a relative excess of melanin or pigment, and in others, a lack of melanin. Sometimes the anomaly is brought on by disease or injury, which may ultimately affect eyesight. But most often it’s genetic and only about pigment. In other words, you’re born with it and you see just fine.

Whatever the origin, I find the appearance not only arresting but extraordinarily interesting and uniquely beautiful. On the other hand, it may not easy to live with. Can you imagine walking around with eyes like this? Do you think people would stare?

Young girl with one blue eye and one brown.

So just how rare is heterochromia iridis? Among certain animal breeds, not at all, including breeds of horses, cats and the dogs. I’m sure we’ve all seen Huskies with one blue eye and one brown.

Husky behind fencing with one blue eye and one brown.

But what of the instance among humans? According to MedicineNet.com, something like six in 1,000 people have it, or about 1 in every 167. The daughter of some family friends of ours is among them, along with a number of celebrities, including Kate Bosworth, Jane Seymour, Mila Kunis, Benedict Cumberbatch and even Dan Aykroyd.

You may be wondering how all of this ties in with my novel, The God of Sno Cone Blue. You already know that my main character has heterochromia and isn’t all that wild about it since she calls herself “lop-eyed.” But more importantly, do her eyes have greater significance to the story? On that point, as they say, I’m afraid if I told you, I’d have to kill you.

But the answer, of course, is in the novel, which I hope you’ll take the opportunity to read. Barring any catastrophe (nerves of a new author), it should be available just over a week through Amazon and other retailers. Subscribe to this site and you’ll be among the first to receive notice!

Close up of an eye with sectoral heterochromia.

Until then, any thoughts on heterochromia? Do you know someone with the condition or perhaps similarly unusual eyes? Would you want eyes like that?

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5 thoughts on “Eyes of a Different Color

  1. Our daughter, Corrie Coffey, has beautiful blue eyes like her father, but her right eye has a brown spot in it. I call it her “speck of mom!”

  2. I have a dear friend of over 40 years who has one brown and one blue eye, she is such a happy and positive person, never comments on this, nor does anyone ask as she has such a terrific personality. So enjoyed your book, best I have ever read, since I have trained Arabian Horses for over 50 years and also have dabbled at and enjoyed painting and drawing. I have always wanted to write, I am absolutely stunned at how well you wrote this book, it had me mezmerized and I lived it all day, when I put it down to finally do some chores, I would pick it up and knew exactly where I had stopped reading even without the awesome bookmark. My daughter gave it to me as her friend is sister to you! More books by you, please! JLN

    • Joanne, thank you for your kind note. It’s always a thrill to hear about real-life people who share traits or experiences with my characters. I’m also glad to hear that you love horses and art and also enjoyed those aspects of the story. My background in art is no more than a college history course and my experience with horses (which I LOVE) was limited, so it was research and advice on those, research and advice. 🙂 I appreciate the encouragement on my next book… it always feels like scaling a mountaintop!

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