The Science Behind Eye Color

The Science Behind Eye Color
JesusLeal / Pixabay

When you were in high school biology class you probably learned that eye color was determined by one gene and depending on what color eyes your parents have you were either going to get the dominant or the recessive gene. It turns out it’s a lot more complicated than that. Your eye color is caused by melanin in your iris- less melanin means lighter colors like blue and green, while more melanin means darker eyes like hazel and brown. Instead of being determined by one gene your eye color is actually determined by multiple genes. The OCA2 gene produces the protein that determines how much melanin you will have in your iris, while the HERC2 gene can limit the OCA2 gene, leading to less melanin. So what can you learn about a person from their eye color?

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Most Caucasian American babies are born with blue eyes and the majority have changes in their eye color until they are about a year old. Babies of other ethnicities tend to be born with darker eyes. Once your eye color is final- only 1 in 6 of those American caucasian babies becomes an adult with blue eyes- there are several preconceptions about your personality based on your eye

Adults who have brown eyes are more likely to be perceived as trustworthy than blue eyed people, according to one study. Those with blue eyes tend to do better at sports that involve breaks like bowling or golf, while dark eyed people may be better at things like boxing and tennis. Another study found that people with lighter eyes tend to be more competitive, while yet another study found that those with darker eyes tend to be more sympathetic. Eyes are the windows to the soul, as the old saying goes, so what do people see in yours?

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Sometimes genetics can throw in some serious anomalies just to keep things interesting. Mila Kunis and Kiefer Sutherland both have a condition called heterochromia iridum, which causes them to have two differently colored eyes. Elizabeth Berkley has a condition called heterochromia iridis, which causes her to have one eye with multiple colors. David Bowie had the appearance of two different colored eyes, but rather than being caused by a genetic anomaly his was caused by a teenage fight over a girl.

Learn more about what causes different eye colors as well as what your eye color may be saying about you from this infographic!


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