Imagine being an optometrist — used to seeing typical eye colors like blue, green and brown — and coming face-to-face with fiery red ones during a routine exam. That’s what happened to an eye doctor in Texas when a 44-year-old man stopped by the office to establish patient care. The man had no specific complaints aside from a family history of glaucoma. The New England Journal of Medicine described the eye as one with “circumferential spoke-like iris transillumination defects” — making it look a lot like the Eye of Sauron from The Lord of the Rings.
The doctors diagnosed the man with pigment dispersion syndrome, a rare genetic condition. Pigment dispersion syndrome happens when pigment granules that regularly stick to the backside of the iris flake off into the clear, watery fluid in the front of the eye, Ars Technica reported earlier. A previous doctor had reportedly determined that the man had elevated pressure in his eye, which can happen when the flakes that come loose clog the eye’s natural drainage system. This can eventually damage the optic nerve.
“The patient underwent selective laser trabeculoplasty but continued to use pressure-lowering eyedrops to control his intraocular pressure,” the doctors said in The New England Journal of Medicine’s report.