And it's not another 'the dress' situation
Words by Emily Baines
Well, this is fun news: those of you who think you have blue eyes, guess again. They’re actually brown. That’s right, and who do we have to blame? Science, specifically the pigment melanin. Does this mean that Chris Martin’s dreamy song Green Eyes could be about any of us? We don’t know what to believe any more. So let’s break this down.
That’s right, we all have brown eyes.
According to Dr. Gary Heiting, a licensed optometrist and senior editor of All About Vision, melanin — which determines the colour of our hair and skin — also plays a part in eye colour. As he told CNN: ‘Everyone has melanin in the iris of their eye, and the amount that they have determines their eye colour.’
According to Dr. Heiting, there’s only one real ‘shade’ of melanin. And guess what, it is brown. As Dr. Heiting explains, the more melanocytes (miniature melanin cells) in your iris, the darker your eye colour. Of course, light also plays a part: Melanin absorbs light, so the more melanin there is, the less light will be absorbed by your eye. In other words: Brown-eyed people have more melanin, less light. ‘Blue-eyed’ people have the opposite problem.
They can’t absorb as much light, so more light is reflected out of their eye. This is known as ‘scattering,’ and the light reflects back on shorter wavelengths. And guess what? Those shorter wavelengths correspond to a colour: blue.
We know, we know. This is shocking. We don’t know what to believe any more!
A lot of us brown and green eyed folks were born with blue eyes. This explains why! Babies’ eyes’ melanin is still forming and can darken over time. As Dr. Heiting explains, ‘As a baby develops, more melanin accumulates in the iris.’ And a parents’ eye colour doesn’t necessary determine their offspring’s eye colour. Eye colour is a polygenic trait, which means that multiple genes determine it. So you blue eyed folk might have blue eyed babies, or you could have a brown eyed one. Only time will tell.
Isn’t science fun?
From the editors of HelloGiggles