Sorry, Your Blue Or Green Eyes Are Actually Brown

November 25, 2017 lil teryan 0 Comments

Eye color is one of the first things we notice about a person. When we learn about genetics in school, chances are we learned it by noting different eye colors, because that’s a trait that everyone has that’s observable by everyone. Eyes are basically windows to the soul, and eye color has been attributed to all sorts of things, including future health and even personality. However, we don’t always understand exactly how our eyes work, and how our irises get their color is just another thing people are trying to understand. One scientist might have figured something out about eye color that might just blow our minds wide open: no matter what color our eyes are, they’re brown. That might sound crazy, but there’s a reason for it, much like there’s a reason for everything that happens in science. On top of that, this might actually tell us why eye colors can change over time. If you’ve got blue eyes, they’re really brown, no matter what they look like to the rest of the world. and here’s why.

Eye color often determines a lot about us. Eye colors are one of the most recognizable markers of genetics in daily life. All around us, people have differently colored eyes, from your husband’s hazel eyes to your dark brown ones to your sister’s baby blues.

However, eye color is not what it seems. For many people, their eye colors could actually be lying to them. No matter how different your eye color is from those around you, regardless of what we’re seeing, our eyes are all one color, and that color is brown. Every human eye is brown.

For those of you with blue eyes, you might be understandably confused. As a person with brown eyes, I personally feel a little vindicated. I was always a person who wanted blue eyes and eventually grew to like my brown eyes, because brown eyes are pretty awesome. However, if you’ve got blue eyes, you might not be so willing to embrace your inner brown-eyed soul.

This all comes down to melanin. We know melanin as the thing that gives our skin its color. However, melanin has a few other jobs. It also gives our hair its color, and more importantly for this conversation, it also gives our eyes their color, too.

Melanin only comes in one color. ”Everyone has melanin in the iris of their eye, and the amount that they have determines their eye color," said Dr. Gary Heiting, a licensed optometrist and senior editor of the eye care website All About Vision. "There's really only (this) one type of pigment.” Guess what color that pigment is.

If you guessed brown, you’re right! Melanin is made up of melanocyte cells, and it’s naturally dark brown in color. However, it also has the ability to absorb different amounts of light depending on how much there is. This is why our hair sometimes changes color in the summer and why our skin tans (or burns, let’s be real).

The same is true of our eyes. The more melanin that’s in our irises, the more light gets absorbed, and the darker our eyes look because the reflecting happens at a much longer wavelength. On the other hand, the opposite is true: the less melanin a person’s eye has, the less light gets absorbed and reflected, which means that light is getting reflected at a shorter wavelength than that of brown. That’s what makes eyes blue.

If you have green or hazel eyes, you’re neither short nor long. Rather, green and hazel eyes are somewhere in the middle: they have different amounts of melanin, which results in different levels of light absorption getting reflected out. For example, hazel is a mix of eye colors, so the light getting reflected makes the wavelengths, and therefore the color, change.

This is why different light settings can make eyes change color. We already talked about the way hazel eyes change, but darker and lighter eyes can change colors as well. Have you ever noticed that your eye color can look totally different in pictures than it does in real life? There’s a reason for that. "It's an interaction between the amount of melanin and the architecture of the iris itself," said Heiting. "It's a very complex architecture."

Eyes are like fingerprints: no two are the same. There are a ton of different textures and patterns in our eyes, so it’s actually very possible that our eyes can act the same way that fingerprints do. That’s not necessarily something I’d want to see, but it’s cool to know that that can happen.

This is also why blue eyes can get darker as a baby gets older. See, when babies are born, their eyes can sometimes appear blue. When they get older, they darken to gray, or brown, or whatever color they happen to darken to. That’s because the melanin in their eyes is still forming. This is also why your hair color changes from when you’re born to when you’re much older.

Our eyes evolved in a similar way to our skin. High levels of melanin in skin and hair protected those living in much hotter climates, and the same is true of the melanin in our eyes. In other regions of the world where hair and skin didn’t need so much melanin, the amount of it simply decreased, which included in their eyes.

There’s also a theory about a mutation. This mutation won’t give blue eyed people superpowers, but it’ll definitely explain why they have them. Professor Hans Eiberg over at the University of Copenhagen theorized that a mutation switched off the eye’s ability to produce melanin, which would lead to lighter eyes. He identified the mutation, too! "It's believed that's how blue eyes came about, but it may just be the de-emphasis on the need for all the melanin," Heiting said.

Biology class might have been wrong. The general belief is that if someone has brown eyes, they’re very unlikely to have a kid with blue eyes, and if your eyes are blue, you’ll automatically have a child with blue eyes, but that’s not true. There are sixteen different genes that are thought to play a role in eye color, and any one of them can influence the eye color of your future children.

If you’re a person who wants to change their eye color or pass on a different color, hope isn’t lost. If you want to change your eye color, there are contacts and even laser surgery that will do that. If you want a kid with different colored eyes, your chances might not be as small as we once thought. Regardless, even if you end up with different colored eyes, temporarily, permanently, or passing them on to your offspring, your eyes are still brown.

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