Brushfield Spots – The Coolest Genetic Trait Ever

I was one of those moms that stared at her baby constantly. I marveled at him. Luckily, my friends also enjoyed this pastime. Maybe also because we were all in college and broke. Staring at Marcus staring at the ceiling fan, or lying next to him and staring at the ceiling fan, was a hobby we could all afford.

Also because he was beautiful. He smiled readily and his eyes sparkled.

In those first few months, I watched his deep blue eyes, expecting them to change into brown, or hazel, or in-between-green-and-something-else, like mine. After he turned a year old, I celebrated the knowledge: Those blue eyes are here to stay!


*Side bar: Neither of Marcus’ genetic parents have blue eyes. So it was a pleasant surprise to me that I carry that/those gene(s). I happen to be studying, for lack of a better term, eye color for other fiction and non fiction projects. This led me to the interesting discovery that blue eyes are 1) becoming increasingly rare in our part of the world, and  2)There is evidence that as much as 16 different genes could be responsible for eye color in humans. Thank you Wikiedia.

Since I first wrote this post I have also discovered, very unscientifically, an unusually high percentage of people with Down syndrome have blue eyes. However, it’s not the blue we’re speaking of today, it’s the stars.

A few months after his first birthday, Marcus was at an evaluation of some sort with several clinical and scary looking people and one of them used the words: “Brushfield spots.”

“What?” I leaned closer.

Brushfield spots.

“What are you talking about?”

“The tiny white spots around the iris of his eyes.”

Have you never looked at your son’s eyes, woman? The scary looking clinical person squinted this attitude at me. Then he pointed out the tiny stars circling the pupil of his eyes.

I swear the person told me there are 21. 21 stars in a perfect circle to match the 21st chromosome connection. (Now, that tidbit I have never found authenticated from my vast 3 pages of research online, but that’s the way I remember it.)

Anyone may be born with Brushfield spots, but it’s far more common in persons with Down syndrome. I rushed home and showed my grandmother. I stared at his little face and those big blue eyes and saw clearly the small white spots that created the depth and sparkle I so loved, I never isolated them from the whole, so I never saw them before. But now, holy wow! There are little blessings, even physiological blessings, that that 21st chromosome kicks in now and then.

They say that the Brushfield spots don’t affect a person’s vision but sometimes I think Marcus’ sees the world in a different light. Maybe it has something to do with the stars in his eyes…

They say that the Brushfield spots don’t affect a person’s vision but sometimes I think Marcus’ sees the world in a different light. Maybe it has something to do with the stars in his eyes… Click To Tweet
*Our good friend Kelly, who used to stare at the ceiling fan with us, took these great photos of Marcus’ starry eyes. 
slinky crop

 What about you, do you know someone with stars in their eyes?


This is a reboot post originally posted in July of 2013. Since then Marcus has published his first story-book for children, taught kids across the country, spoken at the UN, and walked the red carpet with Marissa Tomei and other superstars!  

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2018-03-31T14:12:05+00:00Categories: Grown Ups & Downs|Tags: , , |16 Comments


  1. Jason P. Henry July 9, 2013 at 12:26 pm - Reply

    Amazing! The first thing I notice on anyone is their eyes. To me, the eyes seem to tell a story, give you a glimpse into the person. Great story about your son! Never heard of Brushfield Spots before… but I think I have seen them.

  2. Kristi Lloyd July 9, 2013 at 1:34 pm - Reply

    What a lovely post! I would see the Brushfield spots as blessings too. It’s wonderful that you didn’t even notice them before they were pointed out to you. Truly the gift of a loving person!

  3. Kelly July 9, 2013 at 8:57 pm - Reply

    I miss those stars when looking at other big blue eyes. I’m so used to looking into Marcus’ eyes!
    Oh, if we all could look through his eyes, the world would be a better place…as long as everything was where it was supposed to be. LOL.

    (and…funny, I don’t remember that time as one of being broke, even though I knew we were, but as a time of wonder and beauty, love and fun)

    • Mardra July 10, 2013 at 7:25 am - Reply

      I remember looking in the mirror one time and thinking, what’s wrong with my eyes?
      Oh right, no stars…

  4. Kendra Merritt July 10, 2013 at 10:09 am - Reply

    I don’t think my husband has Brushfield Spots but I’ve always been fascinated with the white streaks in his blue eyes. I think they look like snow. I liked them so much I wrote them into By Winged Chair.

    • Mardra July 10, 2013 at 10:32 am - Reply

      Inspiring isn’t it? I will be using eyes a lot (ALOT) in my fiction series. SO much material there!

  5. MK Meredith July 10, 2013 at 8:07 pm - Reply

    Just beautiful. He sees the world with stars in his eyes because of your love.

  6. Tamara Woods July 13, 2013 at 5:03 am - Reply

    That’s lovely. I had no idea about these. I worked with people with disabilities for a number of years. I did notice some of our folks had a certain sparkle in their eyes. I just thought it was personality. Now to know there’s actual stars there? You made my weekend.

    • Mardra July 13, 2013 at 8:05 am - Reply

      Yea! I’m glad you found us!

  7. Keira Seemer July 15, 2013 at 11:03 am - Reply

    Terrific lady with so much love.

  8. Jennifer July 18, 2013 at 4:06 pm - Reply

    Wow. What an amazing story. Thanks so much for sharing with me @ The Jenny Evolution 🙂

    • Mardra July 19, 2013 at 10:27 am - Reply

      SO many lovely blogs share your site, thanks for stopping by!

  9. Kristi Campbell April 8, 2018 at 10:37 am - Reply

    I love this. Stars in his eyes. Now I need to go look in the mirror and look at Tucker’s eyes. They’re blue but I don’t know about white stars in them… and have never heard of brushfield spots. So cool. <3

  10. Nicola Bond May 2, 2018 at 3:49 pm - Reply

    I never noticed my sons eyes other that his almond blue eyes are gorgeous but my husband saw his stars in his eyes and they are amazing. I googled them and found this absolutely fantastic post and so here’s my comment x

    • Mardra May 3, 2018 at 12:33 pm - Reply

      Thank you! Glad you came around. 🙂

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