Behind David Bowie’s Unusual Eye Condition

ead4e7e8cab9b1e4bcd8173e68851efcThe news of David Bowie’s passing earlier this month shook the music world. He will be remembered for many things –– his amazing vocal talent, his stage presence and even his iconic look, complete with two different-colored eyes.

At first glance, it appears that Bowie had heterochromia, an eye condition quite rare in humans, wherein each iris is a different color. But, upon closer examination, it appears there was another reason that Bowie’s eyes looked so unusual. That’s because he had anisocoria, a condition characterized by unequal size of an individual’s pupils. In this rockstar’s case, his left pupil was permanently dilated.

The Cause of Bowie’s Anisocoria

Anisocoria can be mistaken for heterochromia, because it creates the illusion of having different colored eyes, owing to the dilated pupil not responding to light. In David Bowie’s case, his left eye appeared to be darker than his right, because of the blackness of his dilated pupil. In anisocoria, the dilated pupil is also more prone to “red eye,” which adds to the illusion of a different color when compared to the other eye.

So, how did David Bowie come to live with this eye condition? Back in 1962, when Bowie was just 15, he got into a fist fight with a friend, George Underwood, reportedly over a girl. During the scuffle, Underwood accidentally scratched Bowie’s left eyeball, which caused the muscles responsible for contracting the iris in his left eye to become paralyzed, resulting in anisocoria.

That solves the puzzle of David Bowie’s eye condition. Now, if only we could decipher the meaning behind his last album’s lyrics.

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