Eyes provide more than just glimpses into the world. Their colors also paint portraits on our faces, adding the final touch to the features that make us unique.
From intense hazel to beautiful ocean blue, different eye colors are a source of wonder for many. But which shades and hues are the most common?
Here's what you need to know about recent changes in world eye color statistics.
9 Interesting Facts about Eye Color
- When light meets and refracts from blue-colored irises, it produces an unusual violet eye color.2
- Brown eyes are a genetic trait stretching back 10,000 years to the earliest ancestors, but no two sets are alike.2
- At certain angles and lighting conditions, brown eyes may look black.1 They may even appear reddish-yellow.4
- Blue, a relatively new addition to humans’ evolutionary journey, is emerging as an increasingly popular eye color.2
- Americans with blue eyes (27%) inherited it from ancestors who emigrated across the Atlantic Ocean, tracing back to Scandinavia, Eastern Europe, Ireland, Germany, and England.2
- Non-European people predominantly have brown eyes.4
- South Asians, East Asians, and Africans are generally brown-eyed.4
- Some East Asians have green eyes but never blue.4
- Unusual shades like pale yellow and deep yellow are new categories of eye color and emerging as rare eye color trends.4
What Determines Eye Color?
The hue of your eyes is a combination of up to 16 genes that control melanin production in the iris. Melanin has two types of melanin: eumelanin and pheomelanin. The ratio of these pigments determines eye color.
For example, brown eyes contain lots of melanin, so they absorb more light. In contrast, blue irises carry much less. Thus, the light passes through, creating a blue eye color.
Genetics also plays a role in this eye-color lottery. However, your parents' genes aren't the only deciding factors. The combination of genes from both parents can result in all sorts of possibilities, making your unique eye color an absolute mystery until you're born.
So, blue-eyed couples may produce brown-eyed babies. It all depends on the combination of eye color genes that were passed down.
Eye Color and Health Conditions Facts
- Dark brown-eyed people are likelier to develop cataracts than blue-eyed people.1
- People with albinism often have blue eyes due to a lack of melanin. In some cases, their irises can be entirely clear and appear pink or red due to exposed blood vessels.1
- People with blue eyes have a higher alcohol tolerance but are more prone to the dangers of sun exposure.3
- Heterochromia is a phenomenon where a person has two different eye colors. It can come from genes or an injury, but it could also signify underlying medical conditions like eye tumors, bleeding, and diabetes.4
Can You Change Your Eye Color?
You can slightly alter eye color with special colored contact lenses. Eye drops and balms can also tint your irises temporarily. At the same time, implants and some medications may cause permanent eye color changes.
However, these methods are not recommended. They can cause eye damage due to eye-irritating ingredients and require surgeries that could have severe consequences.
Overall, eye color is one of the most genetically determined features. The one you're born with is likely the eye color you'll keep for life. As such, it's impossible to change it to something completely different without the risk of eye damage.
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