Eye color can be fascinating. If you look closely, you will see many variations of colors that exist. Blue eyes can range from pale blue to deep blue, and brown eyes can range from a shade of amber to a dark, almost black color. Some people even have violet, gray, or red eyes. But what determines this amazing array of eye color?
Genetics plays a large part in the color of our eyes. Scientists used to think that only one gene determined the color of our eyes, but as technology has evolved over the years, it has become apparent that more genes, possibly up to 16, are involved in the process of determining eye color. Little tweaks by any of those genes can altar our eye color, hence the complexity and variation in colors. Brown is by far the most common eye color across the world with almost 80% of the population qualifying as having brown eyes. Blue is the next common eye color, followed by hazel and amber. Three percent of the population have gray eyes, and only 2% have green eyes. Less than 1% of the population have violet, red, heterochromia eyes, meaning each eye is completely or partially a different color.
Melanin is a compound that not only influences skin and hair color, but also eye color. Two different types of melanin affect the color of our eyes, pheomelanin and eumelanin. Depending on the strength of each melanin, eye color is created. Pheomelanin produces a range of shades of green, hazel, and amber. Eumelanin, on the other hand, produces shades of deep brown colors. As you would guess, someone with a lot of eumelanin would have a shade of brown eyes, but blue and green eyes are produced a little differently. Blue eyes are not actually blue, they simply have very little eumelanin in them so as the light scatters across the iris of the eye, they appear to be blue. Green eyes come from low levels of both types of melanin that also allow the light scattering effect to influence the color of the eyes. Hazel eyes are created when there is enough of both types of melanin that the light doesn’t get scattered across the iris, and red or violet eyes occur when there is almost no melanin at all in the eye and the light scattering effect combines with the colors of the blood vessels beneath the iris.
Can Our Eye Color Change?
Sometimes it may seem like your eye color changes on a daily basis. More often than not, this is simply due to the behavior of the eye in response to light. Dim or bright light may affect the size of the pupil of our eye and appear to change the shades of our eyes, or our eyes may reflect different shades of light based on the color of clothes we are wearing, but most generally, adult eyes do not change colors. An infant’s eyes, however, can change colors. Sometimes the melanin in our eyes needs to be triggered by light to begin production. That is why a baby may seem to have blue eyes when first born, but after a few days, the eye color changes.
You may not be able to permanently change your eye color, but with the help of the wonderful technology of colored contacts, you can temporarily change them to many different colors. If you are interested in trying new colors out, give us a call and schedule a contact fitting. We would love to help you find the right color for you! 435. 359.2020