Updated on 

October 26, 2021

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Green Eye Color

What Causes Green Eyes?

The color of your eyes is determined by the level of melanin pigmentation in your iris. Your iris is the thin, ring-like structure in the middle of your eye, giving it its color.

Brown eyes have the most melanin pigmentation and green eyes have the least. When there is little melanin in the iris, the light that hits it disperses. 

This is what makes it appear green. It’s also why sometimes people’s eyes can seem to “change color” as the levels of light vary. This is known as Rayleigh scattering.

How much melanin pigmentation is produced in your iris is a complex matter of genetics. At least 16 different genes influence eye color. 

These genes interact with each other in complex ways. It’s far from a simple matter of what color your parents' eyes are. In fact, scientists still can’t completely predict what color eyes a person’s child will have.

What Green Eyes Look Like (Pictures)

1585321 baby boy
29291348 man with green eyes

How Common are Green Eyes?

Green eyes are among the rarest in the world - even rarer than blue. It’s estimated that only 2% of the entire world population has green eyes.

People of European descent represent the largest share of those with green eyes. Within Europe, green eyes are most common in Ireland and Scotland, and Scandinavia. 

Iceland has the most, with 88% of the population having either green or blue eyes. 

Even though they’re most common in Europe, people with green eyes can be found all over the world, even as far as remote parts of China.

8 Facts About Green Eyes

Here are eight interesting facts about green eyes:

  1. Green is considered to be one of the most beautiful colors for eyes, up there with blue and grey.
  2. Because they have the least melanin, people with green eyes are particularly vulnerable to retina damage from the sun.
  3. People with green eyes are considered “adventurous,” “mysterious,” and “mystical,” according to a survey.
  4. Green eyes are an indicator of Celtic or Germanic ancestry.
  5. Green eyes on women are considered by men to be the most attractive of all the eye colors.
  6. Unlike brown or blue eyes, green eyes don’t show up right away in children. It takes between six months to three years for green eyes to develop.
  7. According to a survey from 1-800 Contacts, People with blue eyes were the most likely to wish they had green eyes instead.
  8. Liqian, a remote village in Western China, is known for its high percentage of people with green eyes. Some suggest they’re actually descended from Roman soldiers who got stranded in China, but this is not proven.

What Celebrities Have Green Eyes?

There are a lot of celebrities with green eyes. Some famous names include:

  • Jon Hamm
  • Adele
  • Scarlett Johannsen
  • Paul Rudd
  • Jude Law
  • John Krasinski
  • Emma Stone
  • Daniel Day-Lewis
  • Charlize Theron

Changing Your Eye Color With Contacts

For most of human history people were stuck with the eye color they were born with. Thankfully, it’s now possible to “change” your eye color with colored contact lenses. 

Colored contact lenses are also known as “cosmetic,” “decorative,” or “costume” lenses. 

You’ll have to talk to a doctor about getting colored contact lenses because they are illegal without a prescription.

6 Cited Research Articles
  1. Blok, Jordan. “How Do We Get Our Eye Color?Popular Science, 26 Apr. 2021.
  2. Center for Devices and Radiological Health. “Contact Lenses.U.S. Food and Drug Administration, FDA.
  3. Gen. “Is Eye Color Genetic?: What Your Eye Color Has to Do with Your History.” Luna, 2021.
  4. In the Eye of the Beholder.Eye Society, 2020.
  5. Simpson, Victoria. “The World's Population by Eye Color.WorldAtlas, WorldAtlas, 6 Oct. 2020.
  6. Uveal Melanoma (Ocular Melanoma).Uveal Melanoma (Ocular Melanoma) | Kellogg Eye Center | Michigan Medicine.
Melody Huang is an optometrist and freelance health writer. Through her writing, Dr. Huang enjoys educating patients on how to lead healthier and happier lives. She also has an interest in Eastern medicine practices and learning about integrative medicine. When she’s not working, Dr. Huang loves reviewing new skin care products, trying interesting food recipes, or hanging with her adopted cats.
https://www.visioncenter.org/author/pierce/
Author: Pierce Willians  | UPDATED October 26, 2021
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Medical reviewer: Dr. Melody Huang, O.D.
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Dr. Melody Huang, O.D.
The information provided on VisionCenter.org should not be used in place of actual information provided by a doctor or a specialist.

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