Alexandria’s Genesis: Can Your Eyes Really Change Color?

Medically reviewed by Ann Marie Griff, O.D. on September 22, 2017Written by Corinne O’Keefe Osborn on September 22, 2017

Overview

Alexandria’s Genesis is an internet myth about perfect human beings whose eyes turn purple during infancy. According to Snopes, a popular fact-checking site, rumors about this so-called rare genetic mutation have been circulating the internet since at least as far back as 2005. Learn how to spot fake health stories.

The myth of Alexandria’s Genesis, which has several odd origin stories, claims that people with this condition are born with purple eyes or have eyes that turn purple shortly after birth. They also have pale skin and well-proportioned bodies that don’t gain weight. These perfect humans supposedly live to be well over 100 years old and produce very little bodily waste.

Alexandria’s Genesis is not a real medical condition. But there are several real-life conditions that can affect eye color. Read on to learn more about these conditions.

Newborn eye color

Eye color refers to the color of the iris, the colorful ring around the pupil that controls how much light enters the eye. Iris color, like hair and skin color, depends on the presence of a protein called melanin.

Special cells called melanocytes secrete melanin in your body wherever it’s needed. Melanocytes respond to light (which explains your summer tan). The melanocytes in the eyes of newborns have never been exposed to light, so they haven’t become fully active.

Most babies will be born with brown eyes, regardless of their race. But many Caucasian babies are born with blue or gray eyes. As the melanocytes are activated by light over an infant’s first year of life, eye color may change. Typically, this means turning from a blue/gray (low melanin) to hazel/green (medium melanin), or to brown (high melanin).

Heterochromia

In people with heterochromia, the iris of one eye is different than the iris of another. For example, you might have one blue eye and one brown eye. It’s also possible for small segments of the same iris to be different colors. For example, half of your left eye could be blue and half could be brown.

Most cases of heterochromia are not associated with any other medical symptoms or causes. It’s caused by a combination of genetic factors, like normal eye color. Rarely, heterochromia can be a sign of a congenital (present from birth) condition or the result of an injury or illness.

Fuchs uveitis syndrome

Uveitis is a rare condition characterized by inflammation in different parts of the eye. In 1906, a doctor named Ernst Fuchs first described the condition of uveitis in people with heterochromia (two different colored eyes). He theorized that inflammation could play a role in the development of abnormal eye color.

The symptoms of Fuchs heterochromatic uveitis are not well documented, but may include changing eye color. Typically, the lighter of the two different-colored eyes is affected. The eye can become darker and the heterochromia can disappear or reverse itself.

This condition can lead to cataracts, glaucoma, or other eye problems.

Pigmentary glaucoma

Glaucoma is a group of eye conditions that affects the optic nerve and can cause vision loss and blindness. In the front of your eye, there is a tiny chamber. Fluid moves in and out of this chamber, nourishing the tissue there. This fluid flows out of the eye through a spongy meshwork that acts like a drain.

In open-angle glaucoma (the most common type), the fluid drains too slowly. This allows pressure to build up in the eye, which can damage the optic nerve. Optic nerve damage can mean vision loss or blindness.

In pigmentary glaucoma, the colorful pigment from the eye sheds off in tiny granules, causing a blockage that slows fluid drainage and increases pressure. Eye color doesn’t disappear entirely, but there can be changes to the iris.

The symptoms of pigmentary glaucoma are like those of other types of glaucoma. The primary symptom is peripheral vision loss. This makes it hard to see things out of the side of your eye.

Glaucoma requires careful management by an ophthalmologist or optometrist (eye doctor). There are treatments and medications that can reduce the chance of vision loss.

Horner syndrome

Horner syndrome is a group of symptoms caused by the disruption of a nerve pathway that leads from the brain to the face and eye on one side of the body. Horner syndrome is typically caused by another medical problem, such as a stroke, spinal injury, or tumor.

Symptoms of Horner syndrome include a decrease in pupil size (the black part of the eye), a drooping eyelid, and decreased sweating on one side of the face. There is currently no specific treatment for this condition.

Tumors of the iris

The iris is the colored part of the eye. Tumors can grow both within and behind the iris. Most iris tumors are cysts or pigmented growths (like moles), but some are malignant melanomas (a form of aggressive, life-threatening cancer).

Most people with iris tumors don’t have any symptoms. Sometimes, though, changes in the eye’s appearance can be seen. Thick, pigmented spots called nevi can change, grow larger, or pull the pupil in a different direction.

If you suspect an eye tumor, consult with an eye cancer specialist to rule out melanoma or begin cancer treatment. Treatment may involve radiation or surgery.

Medications

Some glaucoma medications can affect eye color. Prostaglandin analogs such as latanoprost (Xalatan) work to increase fluid drainage from the eye and reduce pressure buildup. They don’t have a lot of systemic side effects, but they’re associated with changes in eye appearance. People using these glaucoma eye drops may experience eye color change.

Prostaglandin analogs are also marketed as eyelash enhancers such as bimatoprost (Latisse). According to information filed with the Food and Drug Administration, possible side effects of Latisse include a permanent darkening of the iris and a possibly reversible darkening of the eyelid. Read about Latisse and other ways to get longer eyelashes if this is your goal.

Diet

There are internet rumors suggesting that a raw vegan diet can lead to changes in eye color. While a healthy diet is important in maintaining eye health, there is no science to back up claims of color change. This is just one of many myths about nutrition.

When to see a doctor

If you notice any sudden changes in the appearance of your eyes, you should make an appointment with an ophthalmologist or optometrist (eye doctor) right away. Changes in the appearance of the eye can be a sign of an underlying medical condition. If you have any sudden changes in your vision, such as blurriness or black floating spots, consult your doctor.

Takeaway

Like many internet rumors that appear too good to be true, Alexandria’s Genesis isn’t real. However, there are real conditions that can affect eye color.

If you’re interested in achieving the look of someone with the mythical Alexandria’s Genesis, color contact lenses may be a good option for you. Always check with your doctor about any changes to your vision and information about contact lens safety.

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