Melanin is the pigment in the iris that determines eye color; the more melanin in your eyes, the darker the color. The spectrum of melanin provides blue eyes when melanin is low, green eyes for medium amounts of melanin, and brown eyes when melanin levels are high. Although eye color doesn’t directly affect eye care, it is believed that eyes with a lighter color are more susceptible to certain eye diseases.

Although melanin levels are determined by genetics, the genetics of eye color is proving to be increasingly complex. Recently, we’ve come to understand that there are about 50 genes that can influence eye color. Although genes can mix and match in a variety of ways, darker eyes tend to dominate, brown winning over green and green winning over blue. If two parents both have brown eyes, it is likely their children will also have brown eyes, although in some cases, a less dominant blue-eyed trait can be passed down.

While brown eyes typically stay brown, blue eyes don’t always stay blue. Newborns often have non-pigmented (blue) eyes, that may change throughout their first year of life as melanin develops with age. Environmental factors like stress and food may also influence eye color.

Colored contact lenses are the easiest way to change eye color artificially, although it’s only temporary. If you consider this route, please see an eye doctor to get lenses that fit the shape of your eyes. Throwaway, or over the counter lenses that aren’t built to fit your eyes can cause eye damage and lead to further eye care needs.

While slight color changes are a normal part of aging, drastic changes may reveal underlying health issues. Eye diseases inducing color change include heterochromia (in which each eye is a different color), Horner’s Syndrome, pigmentary glaucoma and Fuch’s heterochronic iridocyclitis. If you have concerns about an unexpected change in eye color, please contact us at 877-871-1684 to schedule an appointment with an eye care specialist.

Leave a reply