What is Anisocoria and How Did David Bowie Have it?

What is Anisocoria and How Did David Bowie Have it?

The music world is mourning the loss of David Bowie today, the remarkable pop star who died of liver cancer yesterday surrounded by family and friends, in New York.

He is remembered for his highly creative and at times eccentric work that enthralled fans the world over.

But it’s not just his music that will be remembered. Bowie had that mystical look, that aura of mystery in his eyes.



What caused it? At first glance, it would seem that it he may have been wearing a contact, part of his ever-changing fashion. But what Bowie actually had was anisocoria, a term used to describe unequal pupils. Bowies eyes weren’t two different colors, but his left eye was permanently dilated, making one eye look darker than the other.

According to Internet legend, the singer acquired the condition via a fight with a friend over a girl. His friend’s fingernail caught Bowie’s eye, tearing the tissue, resulting in an enlarged pupil. Bowie was rushed to the hospital to fix the gash and after two eye operations, all was well, but the large pupil remained.

Anisocoria affects about 20% of the population. For those born with one larger pupil, (unlike Bowie,) it can be an indication of other complications, such as Horner’s syndrome. Horner’s syndrome stops the pupil of the eye from dilating in darkness.

For those who develop an uneven set of pupils, it can be caused by one of many conditions happening in the brain, some of which are life-threatening, such as an intracerebral hemorrhage or a brain tumor.

Thankfully, Bowie didn’t have either. Rest in peace, Ziggy Stardust and thank you for the music.




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